Nearly a year after a life-altering motorcycle crash, Miami-Dade police Maj. Ricky Carter fulfilled a promise he made to his daughter Thursday night.
Maj. Carter walked during his daughter’s college graduation on his brand-new prosthetic legs. NBC 6 was the only station to capture the moments when Maj. Carter walked into the Sun Dome arena in Tampa. Seeing her father take those steps was inspiring to Jennifer Carter.
"Just a year ago, I didn’t think he would be here," the University of South Florida grad said. "To see him stand again felt like old times. It was the best feeling ever."
For months, Maj. Carter spent hours in physical therapy learning to walk again for Jennifer’s graduation.
"She propelled me to get to what I achieved today. She’s been my motivation," Maj. Carter said. "I want to be the best man that I can be for her. I need to do this to show her that life has no limitations. That we can still chase our dreams. So, don’t let obstacles or hurdles in your way define you."
He also hung a sign on the wall of his Doral office that reminded him daily of his goal. He put it up three months ago.
"I wrote that when I clearly defined what my goals are. I wrote that and I put it there so I can look at it every day," the officer explained.
On May 7, 2017, the 23-year police veteran was riding his personal motorcycle on Interstate 75 when he crashed into the guardrail. He lost both legs in the accident.
"I can recall waking up in a hospital bed and seeing broken arms, so I’m trying to move my legs under the covers and my legs aren’t cooperating with the moves I’m trying to make. So, I lift off the covers and see that I don’t have any legs," Carter recalled.
In that heart-sinking moment, the police officer questioned how he would move on.
"It was extremely difficult. The process was trying to cope with that. How can I be the man that I wanted to be? How can I be the officer I wanted to be moving forward? How can I be the father I wanted to be moving forward? I had no idea how I was going to do this," he said.
He says every day since that crash has been a struggle.
"I didn’t know how difficult this journey was going to be, I had no clue," he said.
Nearly every day of the week, Maj. Carter takes a trip to physical therapy at Neuro Fit 360 in Pembroke Pines. One by one, he puts on his prosthetic legs to get ready for his grueling sessions.
“Quite honestly, it’s like learning how to walk all over again. At times, I feel like a toddler with my balance, trying to walk,” Carter described.
His therapist and owner of Neuro Fit 360, Guy Romain, says it’s rare to have a double amputee walk on prosthetic legs in less than a year.
"This is not easy. If you see what he’s doing and how hard he’s working, it is not easy," Romain explained.
Maj. Carter said any time an obstacle gets in the way, he finds a way.
“I dig deep and I find that fighter inside of me,” Carter said with a big smile on his face.
He says the steps he took at his daughter’s graduation are just the beginning. The father wants to eventually run again one day.
No matter his goal, he has a community rooting him along the way. Since the crash, supporters have donated more than $86,000 to a GoFundMe page dedicated to Maj. Carter. If you’d like to donate, click here.