Merriam-Webster provides a definition for the word inspiration as “a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something.”
By that definition, there can be no doubt that 40-year-old Gary Miracle is an inspiration.
Miracle, a father of four children, said he started feeling ill between Christmas and New Year’s Day in 2019.
“I wasn’t feeling well so there were a series of events, a handful of emergency room visit and ended up with an infection that put me into septic shock,” Miracle said.
As a result of the illness, Miracle lost both his arms and legs. He added that he was in the hospital for 107 days.
Yet in the midst of a process that is as life-changing as anything anyone could imagine, Miracle has maintained a positive attitude in life and as he serves as a coach two Space Coast United soccer teams.
“I tell people all the time when we’re faced with bad news or faced with an uphill battle, there’s a line drawn in the sand and we can choose to sit on our coach and throw a pity party and feel sorry for ourselves or we can get out there and fight like crazy to do life and to get back to normal as quick as you can.” Miracle said.
His positivity also clearly defines him in his role as a coach, something he says he was able to be once again following the illness last September.
“My goal is to make sure the kids are having a ton of fun and that they want to come back next year,” Miracle said. I feel like at this age if they’re just having fun, so much fun that they want to come back the next year, then I feel like I did alright outside of wins and losses so that’s my goal.”
SCU executive director of coaching Scotty Armstrong was effusive in his praise for Miracle, also noting his positive coaching style and that a lot of kids want to play for him.
“First and foremost, Gary’s probably the most unique story I’ve ever heard of. Gary is pretty much our miracle at Space Coast in many respects,” Armstrong said. “He coaches two teams. He’s just won (recreational) Coach of the Year….he does so much for kids and given the challenges that he’s come across it makes you look at your life and wonder ‘how hard is your life?’ compared to someone who has such a good outlook on the challenges they have.”
Miracle is a dad to Johana, his 17-year-old daughter along with three sons, 10-year-old Asher, 8-year-old Walter and 7-year-old Henry. Each of his three sons play for SCU.
“I don’t have time to sit down and feel sorry for myself and they sure don’t care about my pain so they make me push and fight every single day and I’m so thankful for everything they do for me and their support that they give me every day regardless of what I look like,” Miracle said.
In addition to his work with SCU, Miracle also says he coaches three local youth flag football teams as well.
“I am so honored to be a part of this club and with my kid’s lives. I grew up with a dad that never missed any of my sporting events and I wanted to do the same so I was able to fight through this initial stage and get approval to bring my wheelchair on here onto the field to be able to coach….I am so thankful every day for the opportunity to still be out here coaching with my kids and still alive.”
Despite his current busy schedule out at Viera Regional Park both coaching soccer and football and supporting his children, Miracle has set out in his next endeavor, with Armstrong’s backing to bring a TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) to SCU.
The program is designed to give the opportunity to play soccer to youth with a mental or physical disability.
“There’s so many kids in our community right now that don’t play soccer because they can’t keep up or they don’t think the way that everybody else thinks or they don’t act the way that everybody else acts and this will be a program for those kids to be able to come out here and have fun and give them the support, give them a community, give them their own little village of friends and learn how to play soccer along the way so I think it’s hugely important,” Miracle added.