published Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Mohney: Happy ending and miracle roll into one

By Nell Mohney

Many Chattanoogans will remember a second tragedy that occurred on 9/11, this time in 2004. At the time, Kirk Wilder, son of Bill and Kathy Wilder of Signal Mountain, was a junior at the University of Alabama. At a fraternity event that evening, Kirk's life was forever changed.

Two convicted felons somehow got into the fraternity house that evening and incited a fight. Kirk tried to be a peacemaker. Instead, one felon put a knife into Kirk's head. He was in a coma for five weeks, left paralyzed on the right side and was diagnosed as having Broca's aphasia, which makes it difficult to use the muscles of the tongue and mouth to produce speech.

Challenged by reading, writing and speech deficiencies, he has struggled through grueling years of physical, speech and cognitive therapy.

But after painful years of working through grief and loss, Kirk has a new lease on life. He can walk 1-1/2 miles at a time, communicate in six-word sentences and is continually improving his reading skills. He participates in a day program at Hinds Feet Farm near Asheville, N.C. There, Kirk developed a passion for woodworking.

On a spring afternoon in 2012, Kirk met Joy Baldwin at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville. He was taking classes for the traumatic brain injured, and she was doing pre-GED coursework. At age 3-1/2, Joy had been rescued from a trailer -- starving, physically abused and with nine unset broken bones. Her early story had a happy ending when a lovely Christian family, the Baldwins, adopted her and her two siblings.

Love between Kirk and Joy blossomed, and their wedding was held on Aug. 31, 2013, at Tennessee RiverPlace.

My eyes filled with tears and my heart rejoiced in the goodness of God as I heard the details of the wedding. In my mind, it's a miracle -- an act of God.

Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at

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