JOPLIN, MO.--- It was in 1995 when Brian and Jen Smith first laid eyes on each other.
"We met, it's a classy story, in a Walmart parking lot in Baxter Springs, Kansas," states Jen Smith, Wife.
"She's a beautiful woman and has a great personality, great sense of humor, great spirit. All those things are what made me fall in love with her," states Brian Smith.
For Jen, it was Brian's sense of humor.
"That sense of humor that now I roll my eyes at," states Jen.
A year later, they vowed to love and care for each other through sickness and in health. This summer that statement was put to the test.
"July 21st 2012, we were home that morning and he was gonna run to his mom and dad's house and get the riding lawn mower," states Jen.
"Got the ramps out, started the mower, just went straight over backwards," Brian.
"I got there pretty quick, I beat the ambulance, and when I got there he was laying on the ground," states Jen.
Getting up wasn't an option.
"I don't remember being in a lot of pain, but I knew I was in trouble cause at that point I knew my feet weren't moving," states Brain.
Brian was transported to the emergency room at Freeman Health System in Joplin where he and Jen would learn this was a life changing event.
"I said is he gonna walk again and he said probably 1 to 2% chance," states Jen.
Brian was told the accident broke his back and injured his spinal cord causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down.
"It's tough news to take, I won't say it was easy," states Brian.
The news also came as a shock to his children.
"It was panic mode," states Sydney Smith, Daughter.
"I got really scared at the time, it was really sad, he liked to run and jump, it was really hard on all of us," states Emma Smith, Daughter.
After nearly 2 weeks at Freeman, Brian was transferred to Oklahoma City where he underwent 3 weeks of rehabilitation therapy. He would then return to a wheel chair accessible home, thanks to friends and family who pitched in to remodel the house. Not only did the house undergo a few changes, the entire family has had to pull together to make the transition smooth for Brian.
"There has to be a clear path, everywhere, all the time or he can't do what he needs to do," states Jen.
Brian says there are many activities he misses being able to do.
"I miss coaching, I miss being able to go for a run, I used to love to go out and take a jog, clear my head and now I can't do that," states Brian.
But that sense of humor that brought Brian and Jen together 17 years ago, is now helping the entire family get through each day.
"Comedy helps a lot," states Sydney.
"Mom and dad probably lay around more than they used to," states Emma.
"I have noticed people open the doors a lot more, so that's a plus," states Brian.
Brian is back working at Downstream Casino where he is an accountant. He's also planning to do a half marathon with a hand bike.