September 21, 2021
Written By: Siandhara Bonnet, Rapid City Journal
Becky Noble was 15 years-old when her bedroom was moved into the basement room of her parent’s home on their dairy farm in Medford, Minnesota. She was scared, since prior to this her bedroom had always been right next to her parents’. It was also darker. She would have to calm herself down and would lay still, as if she were paralyzed, and imagine people were coming to visit her.
Two years later, she no longer had to imagine she was paralyzed.
Noble was a passenger in the backseat of a car that hit a telephone pole in May 1996 when she was 17. It left her paralyzed from the waist down.
“…how creepy is it two years later that you’re involved in a car accident? You’re paralyzed, you wake up in a bed that’s floating and you’re like, ‘I can’t move my legs,” Noble said. “But I woke up. I sat up, I got my breathing tube out.”
It was those little wins that helped her move through the wreck.
She went to rehab without going to the neuro floor and jumped hurdles to recover faster.
“But I was thinking how crazy is it that the Lord was preparing me for a calmness, a stillness in my life that you didn’t know where it was coming from,” she said. “Then all of a sudden, boom, woah, OK. There was a reason for that. I thought it was a little psychotic, but there was a reason for it. It was a calming mechanism I had. Some people slept with a blanket, some people slept with a stuffed animal. I just slept really still and talked to people that weren’t there.”
Noble spent about seven days on morphine to help with the pain. When she came off it and the anesthesia, she said she was sad and scared.
“I would call my mom in the middle of the night bawling…I was scared and sad and couldn’t go to the bathroom myself, couldn’t take a shower myself, none of that. How am I going to get through this?”
But her mother’s voice got her through the night that got her to the chair and then to physical therapy.
She was crafted a body jacket she wore for about three months. It went from her waist to her chest and had to wear it any time she was angled more than 15 degrees.
The prosthetic technicians carved the name “Xena” into the body cast. She would wear it with a camisole.
“I kind of looked like Xena the Warrior Princess and that’s how I treated physical therapy...cause I was going to fight this,” she recalled. “I was going to walk again and I was just waiting for my body to heal.”
Her healing journey didn’t have quite the end she was hoping for. “I have a little bit of movement, but nothing I can bear weight on. If I’m in my braces, I feel like I’m floating in the air. I just use my chair, that’s what I've learned and that’s how I’ve spent 25 years of my life. I’m OK with that, I’m healthy. I’m involved in many things and nobody really sees the chair unless they’re looking at it.”
Returning home from the hospital, Noble was surrounded by the support of family and friends. Her uncle built a walk-in bathroom in her room so it was ready to go. Her friends would visit every weekend and take her to and from places. She got back into summer activities and returned to her routine.
Her parents knew not to hover. “They knew that I was becoming an adult and that I was going to need to learn to be on my own and be independent,” Noble said. “They encouraged me to be outside the house.”
At the time the support from her community was both overwhelming and comforting. Even now, her family, friends, and community support her. Whether it be from eight hours away in Medford, her coworkers at Cabela’s or members at the trapshooting club.
Noble graduated from Winona State University with a degree in Social Work. She worked in the field for a short time before working for the Rochester Area Disabled Athletics Recreation, a small nonprofit organization that helped people in the community with disabilities.
She needed more money, which led to her working with Cabela’s. When that took off, she left Rochester and the nonprofit and had made this her career.
Noble has been with the company for about 19 years, which took her to Lincoln and Rapid City where she is now the Club Membership Manager.
Brian Cole, General Sales Manager of firearms, archery and hunting said Noble is great with kids and customers with questions about firearms.
Noble said Cole pushes her and reminds her of why she competes in trapshooting, too. She said everyone at the store is supportive of the other in their extracurriculars whether it be trapshooting, coaching or masonry.
In addition to volunteering as the secretary for the Rapid City Trap Club Board of Directors, she’s on the board for the South Dakota Youth Hunting Adventure and coaches 4-H. She’s also trying to help high school students establish their own club at school.
Noble is an All-American trap shooter and has competed twice at the World Championships for Paratrap.
She said she works because she loves connecting with others, and it’s just her work ethic.
“I love to provide for myself and I’m fully capable of any career that I choose to do,” Noble said. “If there is a will, there is a way. I’m determined to make it happen.”
She said she needs to be a better advocate for herself, but she’s not one to complain about a workspace and its accessibility. She said she doesn’t want anyone to fuss.
For others who may find themselves in a similar situation, Noble said she recommends them finding something that fills their bucket and makes them happy.
“Just live people, live. Sure, bad stuff happens all the time, but you have got to learn forgiveness,” Noble said. “Forgive yourself, forgive others, otherwise you will be unhappy if you don’t learn to forgive. It is nobody’s fault that this happened, this happened to me. I don’t need people to feel sorry for me, I just want people to celebrate life with me instead.”