“I have thoughts about what could have happened but I just thank God for what didn’t happen and I kind of look for my purpose here in life and why I’m still alive, ” says Lawrence Manker, Jr.
Those are words many of us might aspire to live by but coming from this young man, the words seem not only inspiring but pretty miraculous after what he’s endured. Manker was severely burned in 2008 during the explosion and fire at Imperial Sugar. He was in a coma for six months. “And I just wake up in the hospital,”
After the coma there were two more months of hospitalization and then painful rehabilitation. “Yeah, I had a little anger at that particular time but after really thinking about it and looking at the situation it could have been far worse than what it really was, and then I just accepted it and accepted who I am now,” he tells me.
By the way, who is now is a college graduate. Manker graduated from Savannah State University last month. And his wife Vanessa is throwing him a big party on Saturday to celebrate this milestone with family and friends and perhaps more importantly, to celebrate the fact he is alive and still finding the courage to move forward.
As part of the celebration, Manker and his wife want to give back to those who help him and his family so much during those dark days of his recovery. They’ve set up a Gofundme page to collect donations for the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta. “The burn center has been a great help to many families, not just my family, but many families,” Manker told me.
He was just 19 when the terrible accident happened that changed his life so drastically. It was not the life he planned. “I dreamed of being in the NFL or going to the Navy,” he says.
But now it is the life he embraces every day with thanks. “I try to focus more on the future than to allow the past to hold me back,” he says.