UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio - A man shared his story of recovery and strength in the face of tragedy on Friday.
Blake Haxton was a bright student and star athlete at Upper Arlington High School when a deadly infection forced doctors to amputate both of his legs to save his life, 10TV's Chuck Strickler reported.
After almost three years, Haxton is teaching children the sport he loves and inspiring everyone he meets to never give up.
Haxton now spends his time rowing through the swells if the Scioto Ricer, Strickler reported.
"I got into rowing how a lot of people get into rowing," said Haxton. "You kind of trip and stumble and you land in a boat somewhere."
For seven years, Haxton said he has practically lived in a boat.
Haxton was one of the best high school rowers in the state when tragedy struck his senior year of high school.
He told coaches a cramp in his leg was bothering him, that cramp turned out to be a symptom of a rare, fast spreading, flesh eating bacteria called Necrotizing Fasciitis.
"I should be dead, you know, any doctor that saw me said 'This kid should be, or will be dead at some point,'" said Haxton.
Doctors had to amputate both of his legs to save his life.
After twenty surgeries, Haxton said he still did not know how or why the infection almost killed him.
"If you look at it like 'I'm just lucky to be here,' then every thing's upside at that point," said Haxton.
When he's not in the water, Haxton can be found on the Ohio State campus.
A junior Business major, Haxton drives himself to class and gets around without help.
"All the advice we get as students, you know, they really don't give it for amputees or for people in wheelchairs, and that's because we're such a small degree of the population," said Haxton. "That's fine, but you kind of have to tailor your own planning to that, and that's been a great education in itself."
With faith and a lot of support, Haxton is charting his own course.
"When you say you had the world by your fingertips, I don't see how that's changes necessarily. Maybe a better way to say it is 'There's a different route to it, but it's still there,'" said Haxton. "Maybe that's me being overly optimistic, but in my experience, being overly optimistic is a good thing."
Since June, Haxton has been coaching at Upper Arlington High School.
"Little coaching secret, we love to see kids get frustrated, we really enjoy it when they get upset," said Haxton. "Those kids are going to work extra hard to fix it, they start coaching themselves."
A virtue Haxton knows all too well.
"We use rowing as a tool to teach them and other things they can't learn in the classroom," said Haxton. "Those lessons helped me get through what happened to me."
Despite all the changes, some things remain the same in Haxton's life.
"This happened to me," said Haxton. "But it didn't define me."
Haxton has been practicing with prosthetics and may be walking by next spring.
The second annual Haxton Invitational Regatta will take place on Saturday at the Scioto River, money raised will help pay for scholarships for Upper Arlington rowers