As I continue to introduce you to BamaCarry members I am impressed with the people who have joined BamaCarry to help fight for our rights and to be a part of the different things that BamaCarry is involved in. I love getting to know people personally and to find out the many things that our members have experienced, accomplished, seen and lived through that no one knows about. That is what building a life’s testimony is about. I have long believed that God brings people into our lives sometimes to teach us, inspire us or challenge us. Sometimes He brings people into our lives for specific purposes that might last only a week, a month a year or perhaps longer. I was at a BamaCarry meeting about three years ago and there was this man walking around with very nice Nikon taking pictures. He sat down at our table and it wasn’t long that a friendship started to develop. His name was John McDonald and I would like for you to meet him. He has certainly experienced things that most of us cannot imagine.
John recently shared a part of his life with me.
“I was hunting with a friend. We were both 13 at the time. It was the day after Thanksgiving and we had been deer hunting. I was about 4-5 feet from the shotgun and it discharged. The buckshot struck me on my left flank. It took out my left kidney, spleen, damaged major blood vessels and arteries. Also it damaged my spine at T-12 and L 2 & 3. My friend ran to get help. I grabbed a handful of my coat and pushed it into the wound. I didn’t think I was going to make it. But, I was not afraid. I pulled out my New Testament Bible from my pocket. I wanted to let my family know I was going to be OK either way. I opened it to Luke 23:43. I marked it in blood to reassure them I would be fine. This passage was during Christ’s crucifixion. One of the thieves’ asked Him to remember him when he reached his Kingdom. Christ answered “ Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”
The next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the most Beautiful Person I had ever seen, he told me to go back, it not your time. I woke up in the back of my uncle’s truck on the way to my Grandmother’s home. Next I was transferred to a car and they took off to get me to the ER. We were coming down H-way 69 to Tuscaloosa. Around Lake Tuscaloosa, we met the ambulance. While the EMT’s were working to get me transferred, a group of physicians stopped to help me. They started a central line and packed my wound. Then I was transferred to the ambulance. We never found out the Doctors’ names. I just think of them as Angels. On arriving to DCH ER, The 3 specialists I would need just happened to stop by the ER to sign some charts. Dr. Fernandez, a Neurologist, Dr. King, a Nephrologist, Dr. Shamlin, General Surgeon.
They worked on me for hours. First they didn’t think I would make it. Next they thought I would be severally disabled. Thankfully they were wrong. I was in ICU for almost a month. Finally I came home in late December for a few days. I was then sent to Spain Rehabilitation at UAB. I was rolled in a wheelchair and about 6 weeks later; I walked out with 2 canes. I was unable to return to school that year but for a few brief visits, I was given a home bound teacher. I was so blessed by my family and friends. It was a struggle to return to school the next year. I was 5’2 and 135 lbs. when I was hurt. I was 5’8 and 78 lbs. One word skinny. I worked to catch up and I was able to graduate in 1980 with my class Central High School”
John told me that he went on to Shelton State Community College 1980-1982. While taking an art class he became very interested in photography and in his words, “it clicked with me.” It wasn’t long before the college saw his talent and made him the College Photographer.
John went on to say, “I started taking photos for people and made extra income doing so. I submitted photos to several magazines and was published in a few. I was approached by a magazine group to do some freelance shooting for several magazines they published. That started me traveling around the South East area shooting local law enforcement training and the firearm industry.”
John then transferred to the University of Alabama, Capstone School of Nursing in January 1983. John graduated from Capstone in 1984. From 1984 until 1998 John was splitting his time between nursing, working in law enforcement and traveling for Soldier of Fortune Magazine doing freelance photography. He was sent to Europe, the Far East, Middle East, Central and South America.
It was around June 1998 that John suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident that ended his careers. Until around February John remembers very little. As he puts it, “I would cycle off and on with my memory problems.”
John goes on to credit his parents for working hard in his recovery from the accident. John told me, “In Feb 2000, my Dad John L McDonald Sr., started taking me to continuing education classes at Shelton State Community College. This got me out of the house and started me socializing with others again. We had fun taking these classes together. We studied Photography, Computers, Word-processing and many more than I can remember now. My parents took such good care of me during this time. I was a mess. I do not think I would still be here without their prayers and help.”
In 2004 John’s Dad “helped me get a Nikon D-70 Digital camera. This got me restarted in my photography.”
“I have been blessed to get back the love of taking photos. My Dad loved taking photos too. We would go out and shoot just to shoot. Now I realize he was getting me out walking and moving as part of my rehab. I cherish these memories. My Dad passed away in July 2005 from complications from Dialysis. He was such a Godly Christian man. I still forget at times and pick up the phone to call him. My Mom has had to remind me he is gone, way too often.
John goes on to say that in 2006 he and his Mom joined Englewood Baptist Church. “We had so many friends and family going there that It was like moving back home.” It was the place he needed to be for encouragement and a new love for his Lord. It wasn’t long before he had set his photography studio back up and working. He once again was enjoying his photography.
John believes, as many of us do, that there are no accidents in the lives of God’s children. He saw the hand of God working in his life after the devastating tornadoes that struck Tuscaloosa by bringing new friends and new opportunity into his life.
As he tells it:
“Several local music groups and other entertainers from Nashville came together to raise funds for those in need. My classmate Barry Lafoy is a road manager in Nashville, and the MC for the event. He asked me to come and photograph the night’s event. What a Wonderful evening. No egos, just common love for our City. This experience allowed me to meet and start working with local musicians. Many are now dear friends including The Blues Crew, Mid-Life Crisis, David Ivie, Ken Randolph, Swift Kick, Rydin’ Durty, Jeff & Lisa Cook. It has been truly a Blessing to me to enjoy so much beautiful music.”
“In May 2013, a friend was scheduled to speak at a Tuscaloosa BamaCarry meeting. I had not been aware of this group. John Fisher had posted on FB he was speaking for them that night. I went to the meeting and asked permission to take photos. I was given that permission by Eddie Fulmer. Little did I know the family I was entering into. By chance, I sat at a table with Billy Denton and also met Paul Arnold. The men and women of BamaCarry have truly become family to me. I had been an Open Carrier since 1978. I was not aware of the problems others had been having doing it. Being a local LEO, I had never had a problem with seeing a Law Abiding Citizen carry. I have been truly blessed in finding this group.”
In closing let me say that John has become more than a friend. He is my brother in Christ. We have travelled together, laughed together, shared Christ together and encouraged one another when we needed to. He has become the BamaCarry “official photographer” and has put in a tremendous amount of time and effort for free. You will see him at many meetings and other functions that BamaCarry puts on.
There is more to John’s story that perhaps he will allow me to share later. My life has been enriched by knowing this man and watching him as he works to help make life better for others.
We Are BamaCarry and we are made up with everyday people who fight the same battles and suffer the same challenges as everyone else…but, we ARE the Family of BamaCarry!