COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s been almost six months since a boating crash on Lake Murray killed one Chapin man and left members of the family with critical injuries.
On September 21, officials said a boater struck the Kiser family’s pontoon boat, killing Stan Kiser. His wife, Shawn Kiser lost her right leg, and his daughter Morgan suffered head injuries.
Since that day, Shawn Kiser has been learning what she calls her new normal. In mid-December, she was fitted for a prosthetic leg and in January she took her first steps with it. Over the weekend, Shawn Kiser accomplished her next big goal in front of thousands of people.
Right after Shawn took her first steps with her new prosthetic leg less than two months ago, she received a surprise visit from the Gamecocks Women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, who while helping her take one of her first small walks, challenged her to a giant walk right here at the Colonial Life Arena.
“March 1st, we will do that at a women’s basketball game,” Staley said while helping Shawn walk.
Morgan Kiser said it was that simple statement that pulled her mom through one of her darkest days and two months later led to a big day at the Colonial Life Arena, with thousands of people cheering for Shawn as she walked across the court at half time during the last home women’s basketball game of the season.
When Staley challenged Kiser, she had 54 days to get ready for the walk on March 1. Kiser said each day was filled with hours of practice walking on her new prosthetic leg, but after nearly two months, she was ready.
“I had to pinch myself, I can’t believe it’s me, getting to walk across the basketball court, wow,” Kiser said.
Kiser said Staley’s challenge is what motivated her and kept her going during the difficult moments of recovery.
“She did inspire me, every morning I woke up,” Kiser said.
Kiser said the hardest part of this tragedy has been losing her husband, but also realizing all of the simple things she took for granted.
“Walking, or you know, just picking something up off of the floor,” Kiser said.
Morgan Kiser said her dad was a huge Gamecock fan and she knows that he was watching and smiling on Sunday.
“I know my dad was so proud, I could actually feel him there, when we were on the court, you could feel how proud he was, it was amazing,” Morgan Kiser said.
Shawn Kiser said she felt her husband’s presence too.
“Dawn Staley, he just adored her, I felt him when I was out there,” Shawn said.
On Tuesday, Morgan and Shawn watched a video of that walk across the court, seeing the way thousands of people stood to their feet cheering Shawn on. Through tears, Morgan said she now knows her mom is going to be ok after a year filled with so much tragedy.
“To see her like this, be able to walk across the court, is just amazing. I can’t even say how thankful I am to Dawn Staley, because knowing she can survive is such a wright off of my heart,” Morgan Kiser said.
Kiser said she hopes her walk inspires others and helps stop another boating accident like the one that killed her husband from happening.
“Through all this, you know, we hope that someone won’t have to be in shoes like we were in,” Shawn Kiser said.
Shawn said that accomplishing that goal on Sunday motivated her to reach more goals. Yesterday she drove a car for the first time and next she says she wants to learn to ride bikes again and take Scuba diving lessons.
The Kiser family started a Facebook group called Safe the Lake. It now has over 4,000 members with the goal of making the lake a safer place by educating and raising awareness about boater safety.