On January 3,1993 The Bills played the Houston Oilers in the playoffs. I had all my Bills clothes on and was ready for the game. Me, Dad, and Bill sat in our house in Raeford N.C to watch the game. The game started off terrible and by halftime the Bills were losing 28-3. I had NEVER given up on the Bills but my heart was crushed. I was crying, frustrated, threw in the towel ,and headed to a childhood friend of mine Mac's Grandmothers house to play basketball with my friends. After being there ten minutes my brother pulled up and said "you might wanna get in the car, Buffalo is doing something and your man Don Beebe just scored a touchdown." I ran to his car and headed home. When I got there, Buffalo had made the score 35-10 which they were still down by a lot. There quarterback (Frank Reich) had the "eye of the tiger" and was leading them back. Score after score the Buffalo Bills kept getting it done. They finally tied it up and won with a game winning field goal by Steve Christie in overtime.This was the greatest comeback of all-time in NFL history. That was the happiest moment of my life yet bittersweet. I was happy they won but I have given up earlier on the Buffalo Bills.That day I promised to God,the Buffalo Bills,and myself, not only to NEVER GIVE UP on the Buffalo Bills but to also NEVER GIVE UP on anything in my life.
My brother went to East Carolina University and I had wanted to go there since I had been in the 8th grade. I would draw ECU on all my notebooks and little Pirates on my desk at school. In High School I was only an average student. I took the SAT and was excited when my letter of results came in because I knew I was going to go to ECU to be an East Carolina University Pirate.When I opened the letter my score was 590. My score was so low, I think I even spelled my name wrong. My hopes and dreams of going to ECU were diminished. I had to go to a Jr. College but in the back of my mind I told myself "DON'T EVER GIVE UP". I had made that promise to God ,the Buffalo Bills,and myself , on Jan.3,1993.
That year at the Jr. College I had decent grades but had to get A's and B's to get into ECU. I was taking a science class and was doing terrible in it. On the final exam(in order to get into ECU) I had to make an 88 on it. I studied day and night until minutes before the exam. I took the exam,had my Chevy Blazer loaded from the dorms and was going home pass or fail. A few hours later the professor placed the test scores on his door. I made an 89. (Lets GO BUFFALO!!!!). Change of plans, I drove straight to ECU,picked up Bill and we went to the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival with our friends and had the best time ever.
That fall I attended East Carolina University (ECU) which was a struggle from the start.The classes were hard,I partied too much , but I was determined to get it done. I did party a lot but I also studied a lot. I just needed to find a way to balance it out . If the average person was studying 2 hours ,I would study 4. I refused to be beat and give up. It paid off, and after a few years I graduated from East Carolina University.(LET'S GO BUFFALO!!!!)
After college I moved to Randleman N.C. I taught High School Exceptional Children and coached football . My brothers wife got pregnant and I wanted to be near my family so I moved back to Greenville and got into waterfront property sales. I didn't know anything about sales and my company didn't require a Real Estate License so if I failed at that I could always go back to teaching.
I was a natural at waterfront property sales . I came out of the gates strong. I could sell ice to an eskimo. I was the top producer in my office 5 out of 6 years. We started expanding and the company I worked for required us to get real estate licenses. I took the class in N.C and failed it. Took it 2 more times and failed it. I went to my Doctor to get tested for a learning disability. I was diagnosed with A.D.D and ADHD. He told me he was amazed that I graduated from college. He gave me some medication to help me study and focus. I ended up going to South Carolina to take the R.E class and test because it was not as hard as the test in N.C. After failing that test twice I FINALLY passed it. I had my "sales person's " License. I still had to take 90 hours to get my brokers license in North Carolina but at least I could work with that.
My life was looking good. I had a new nephew, money,an Escalade, Hummer,Rolex, a house ect. I was living a fairytale life like someone on MTV. I looked good, had hot girls,had a permanent smile,and was living a dream. I felt I deserved all those things because I had put in so much effort and work. I let myself drift away from God and my true friends. I was selling waterfront and partying every night,drinking,and experimenting with drugs. Then all of a sudden....BOOM!!!!!! April 26,2007 I was involved in a 4 person car wreck, with 1 fatality and me with 27 broken bones a brain injury and in coma.
For the first week things looked horrible. The doctors only gave me a 10% chance to live.They had machines breathing for me and had me hooked up to alot of tubes. After 13 days they came out and told my family that the next 24 hours were critical,and it was up to me to live.Well, God heard my famiy's prayers and new what I promised him,the Buffalo Bills and myself to "NEVER GIVE UP" and the next day I started breathing on my own. A few weeks later I came out of coma.(LET'S GO BUFFALO)
The Doctors called my family in a room and had them sit down. I was out of coma but they told them I would not be the same Bart Upchurch.They said I might not remember them or anything. I might have a mentality like a 1st grader. I might have to learn how to tie my shoes again and things of that nature. This news hurt my family. When they visited my room I knew who Bill,Mom,Dad, close relatives and 1 or 2 friends were, but not much more. Some of my cousins and best friends would visit and I had no clue who they were. My brain injury was not even allowing me to know what year it was.
Day by day passed but my brother Bill never left my side. He took off work and devoted 100% to me. My best friend Andrew came by a lot after he got off from teaching school. Since I was in coma during the NFL draft Andrew had been coming in my room 2 weeks prior to me coming out of coma and told me we drafted Marshawn Lynch from the University California. When I awoke from coma ,one day Bill asked me did I want to know who the Bills drafted. I said "I already know, we got Marshawn, Andrew told me".The thing was Andrew never told me while I was awake.This was something you only see in soap opera's. My family informed the doctors of what had happened.The doctors took this ball and ran with it. They gave my family the best advise ever!! They told my family to go home ,get pictures,albums,Buffalo Bills clothes,accessories,ect. to help trigger my memory. Decorate my hospital room with the Buffalo Bills.
Each day that went by, I would do a little better. I might not know who my cousins or friends were or where I was from but I knew that Jan.3,1993 the Buffalo Bills beat the Houston Oilers in the greatest comeback of all time. I didn't know girls I had dated but when Andrew or Bill said who wore 37 for the Bills,I would say Nate Odoms,who wore 82, I would say Don Beebe,who wore 32 ,I would say "My man O.J and he's still not guilty". The more days that passed the better I got. My Pitt Memorial hospital room was decked out in Bills flags ect. My closet at home had been raided by all my family and friends with Bills gear. Bills mania had taken over Greenville and Pitt Memorial hospital. Friends of mine that hated the Bills were wearing my Bills jerseys. Even my Dad wore my autographed James Lofton Jersey with yellow tight yellow coaching shorts and black socks. Thank God the Fashion police were not in the Hospital or they would have gave poor Daddy life in fashion prison!!!!(which since then he has actually became a well dressed man).
After 27 broken bones,facial paralysis,loss of vision in my right eye, and a brain injury, I was sent home. I still had a lot of surgeries to go and even more depression to come. I was forced to accept there would be no more sports,hunting, smiling, running ect. I became depressed and hated my life. One day my close friends Chad and James Landen(which are die hard Cowboy fans) came by my house and brought me a framed autographed poster of the Buffalo Bills Jan. 3, 1993 game. I don't even think they knew what that date and game meant to me. I hung it up , then I started going through my "get well"cards and gifts at home. Someone in my company had called and written the Buffalo Bills and told them about my wreck/coma and my passion for the Buffalo Bills. They also told them my childhood hero was Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Don Beebe. As I was going through my cards trying to read them with one eye, I saw a letter from Don Beebe he had written to me while I was in coma.. At the Bottom of the letter it said "DON'T EVER GIVE UP" That day I told God, the Buffalo Bills,and myself, that I had made a promise Jan. 3,1993 that I would "NEVER GIVE UP" and I was not about to now..
Throughout that year I had 17 surgeries on everything it seemed. What Doctors said I could not do, I did. They said I would never be able to run again, I began to jog a mile a day, they said I would never be able to bench press over 200 lbs again, I benched pressed 350lbs .However there was still one thing I did not test yet.
I had my salesperson's license but did not have my brokers license. I had failed it in North Carolina so much before my wreck it seemed impossible to try to pass now. I had work disability for a while so I was able to recover comfortably. My last Surgery was in April of 2008, so my mind started to wonder. I thought to myself "with one eye and learning disabilities will I ever be in Real Estate again'? "Will I ever be able to pass these tests?" I said to myself" come on Bart ,the doctors told your family at one time that you might have to learn how to tie your shoes again much less take real estate tests". I decided right then and there,since I had been this far, I might as well go all the way and get it done .I still had to take 90 hours to get my brokers license. I signed up for the classes ,got mentally prepared and boom!!!! Failed the 1st one. I thought to myself "here we go again" However, I passed it on the retest. I took the 2nd class and passed it as well. I did just like I did in college and life. I worked hard and put in more hours than the average person. With test 2 passed ,60 hours were done .I took my last class 2 weeks later and failed the test. I knew I would get to retake the test a week later. I studied more than ever. Night and day hours and hours .The time came for me to take the test again. On October 14, 2008 I passed the test and became a North Carolina Real Estate Broker!!!!!!!!(LET'S GO BUFFALO)
The feeling of accomplishment was outstanding. I had done the unthinkable.You see it on TV and movies Doctors saying a patient will never do this or will never do that. My task was completed. I DID IT!! I had done more in one year than I had done in 31 years. Former head coach of the Green Bay Packers , Vince Lombardi once said "the greatest accomplishment is not in ever falling,but rising after you fall". I agree, I got knocked down alot .I will get knocked down the rest of my life. However, I will not get knocked out!!! Because of the Buffalo Bills and Jan.3,1993, I learned to NEVER GIVE UP.
There are a lot of you out there that don't like the Bills or don't like sports in general. I don't want you to read this story and be like"way to go Bart". I'm not trying to get pats on the back. What I do want you to do is anytime you see the BUFFALO BILLS LOGO ,let it be a reminder to you to NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!!! If you are struggling with something in your life,look at the Buffalo Bills logo and tell yourself that you can do it. Billieve me, anything is possible, I have accomplished what doctors and other people told me I wouldn't. The main reason is because I NEVER GAVE UP and on Jan. 3,1993 the Buffalo Bills didn't give up either.