Cory Scheer of Liberty has ran 25 marathons, 14 half marathons and 2 Half Ironman triathlons. Today, he helps lead one of the largest running groups in the nation for Team World Vision. But he hasn’t always been an avid marathon runner. In fact, Scheer only became an avid marathon runner after a serious bicycle accident changed his life.

It was July 18, 2013. While cycling on the streets of Liberty during a training ride for a Full Ironman triathlon, a vehicle collided with him. “I went over the hood, hit the windshield and landed on my back, 20 feet from the point of impact,” Scheer recalled. He had significant injuries and spent four hours in surgery, receiving 300 stitches on  his back, head, arm and hip as well as a concussion and three hairline features in the transverse processes of his lumbar spine.

Miraculously, though, the surgeon, Charles Beggs, M.D., of The Surgeons Clinic at Liberty Hospital, said he had no broken bones or internal injuries. “He told me I needed to go buy a lottery ticket,” Scheer said. “It was a miracle – not only that I survived and did not have more serious injuries, but that I was able to walk out a day and a half after the accident – thanks to some Good Samaritans, paramedics and the staff at Liberty Hospital.”

During his physical therapy to rehabilitate his shoulder, Scheer decided to continue his pursuit of endurance sports through distance running. He set a goal to run 12 marathons in 12 months starting the October after the accident. “Running has been an integral part of my recovery,” he said. “It gave me physical relief of stress, engaged me in something competitive and allowed me to use my accident recovery story and marathon goal to raise awareness and money for charitable organizations that help meet people’s basic needs around the world.”

Running also is a family activity. “Running has been something we have been able to join together to do,” said his wife, Jamie Scheer. “It helped us process what happened to him, and it’s a way for us to give back to the community.”

Cory Scheer surpassed his 12-marathon goal by running a 13th that year, raising $17,000 for five charities. “I wanted to use running as a platform for good, not just a way to receive a medal at the end of the race.”

It was after being featured in a Runner’s World magazine article that Cory reached out to Team World Vision to help bring their efforts to Kansas City. Team World Vision partners with local races and recruits walkers and runners in cities around the world to raise funds for clean water in communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a mission that connected deeply with Scheer’s post-accident experience.

“I remember lying in the ER and having my most significant physical struggle – I couldn’t have water,” he said. “I had ridden my bike 20 miles on a hot July day and lost three units of blood after the collision – I was extremely thirsty, but I could only have a small wet sponge on my tongue. To think that children in Sub-Saharan Africa walk up to 6 km to get water every day that is often not clean was a connection that became very real to me in that moment of deep thirst. I wanted to do something that directly impacted children and families.”

He and his wife, Jamie, have coordinated Team World Vision’s efforts through their church, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty. Starting with 300 team members who ran or walked the Kansas City Half or Full Marathon in 2015, the Kansas City team has grown to 870 this year with a goal of raising $1 million for clean water.

Every Saturday from June to October, Cory and Jamie, along with Adrienne and Brad Garstang, M.D., who practices family medicine at The Liberty Clinic, and volunteers from more than 20 other churches lead training runs in the Northland to prepare for the Oct. 21 Kansas City Marathon/Half Marathon. One of the local races that Scheer used as a training run for this spring’s Boston Marathon was the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon. Scheer said he plans to run the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon again next spring.

“The timing of that run for me was perfect for training for the Boston Marathon,” he said. “The quality of the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon race along with the great community of people who participated made it feel like the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon was in its 10th year, even though it was the first year.”

Running the race in March was a way to give back to Liberty Hospital and the local community. “I feel more grateful for life every day,” Jamie said. “I’m grateful for the care Cory received at Liberty Hospital, as well as for the support our family received. The accident has given us a deep appreciation of things we often take for granted every day – clean water, food, and education. It woke us up to not only how fragile life is, but that we must serve the needs of other people in our own community and communities around the world.”

Proceeds from the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon/Jewell 5K support the Liberty Hospital Foundation’s LiveWellGrants for health initiatives in the Northland.