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Patience Personified

Published on February 28, 2017

by Sarah Rennicke

This story appears in FCA Magazine’s September/October 2017 issue. Subscribe today!

Any college kid faces a sudden barrage of seemingly life-altering questions: “What should I major in?” “Where does God want me to be?” “Who does He want me to date?” “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

Some of these questions, obviously, are more important than others. But here’s one very few ever have to ponder: “Should I let doctors amputate my leg?”

Talk about life-altering.

Yet that’s exactly what Kody Kasey had to answer when he was just 19 years old.

• • •

Kody Kasey’s odyssey began on October 18, 2014—Homecoming at Georgetown College, a private, Christian, liberal arts school in Kentucky located just 12 miles north of Lexington.

Kasey, a sophomore defensive back for the Tigers’ prestigious NAIA football program, got locked up with an opponent during a routine punt. He was hit from the side and felt dizzy in an instant. As he dropped to the ground, he saw his lower right leg bent and knew it was broken. He was carted off the field and taken to the hospital, where they inserted a rod into his leg.

Although his season had come to a sudden end, Kasey remained positive, already thinking about working hard in rehab and returning to the field the following fall.

But that plan was sidetracked at his six-month checkup. His bone still hadn’t grown. The doctors scheduled another surgery and a bone graft, which would involve an even more painful recovery. Still, his dream of returning to football was alive.

More bad news came another six months later: An infection was eating away at the tissue around his bone. Doctors scheduled a third surgery to insert an antibiotic rod. Kasey was doing his best to remain upbeat, focusing on his future life of normalcy again, but the frustration of added time and more surgeries began to mount. As reality set in, he wondered how sane his hopes were of playing football again.

Kickoff Return web
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12 (NIV)

The strain on his body, and now his spirit, brought Kasey bare before God.

“I thought I could do this stuff on my own, and I realized I couldn’t,” he said.

Kasey went into his room and cried out to God, surrendering his situation and heart to the One who sees clearly amidst all our uncertainty.

“I asked for His help and guidance,” he said. “And from that day on, I started seeing a change.”

He jumped into prayer and the Word with fervor, and God’s voice came alive. When he prayed for courage and strength of mind, God revealed a spirit of patience to endure, stay positive, trust and keep faith. Kasey would need all the spiritual stamina he could muster as the third surgery turned into a fourth, and then a fifth. The infection refused to relent; rehab became excruciating.

Eventually, Kasey and the medical staff had to face the unfortunate truth that something was seriously wrong.

With the prospect of a sixth surgery in 11 months looming, doctors braced Kasey for that life-altering decision. They could continue the cycle of surgery and cleaning with no guarantee of full or proper healing, or they could amputate his leg below the knee, giving him a new chance at mobility.

Still a teenager, Kasey was a fit and healthy college athlete with no thoughts of anything less than a full life ahead. But this decision could shift the entire trajectory of his life. He spent the next two-and-a-half weeks in the hospital, recovering from his latest surgery while continuously praying over his upcoming fate.

As the number of surgeries continued to mount, Kasey’s faith was growing as well. He leaned into God, poring over Scripture and ruminating on Romans 12:12 (NIV): “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Kasey believed God was assuring him of His sovereignty over whatever was to come.

He discussed the situation with his family ad nauseam, but ultimately it was his decision to make. He continued to pray for his future. One night, his sister opened her journal and read Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

The declaration of God’s desire to protect and give hope resonated in Kasey’s spirit. He fell asleep to His Word. The following morning, he awoke with that exact same Scripture as his phone’s verse of the day.

Kasey knew what to do. He would let the doctors amputate.

• • •

The morning of the scheduled surgery, Kasey awoke with fear gnawing at his chest. He pushed back the operation, cleared everyone out of the room and, once again, opened up to God, asking for another gracious sign of direction.

The phone rang, and Kasey answered. It was his best friend’s grandfather calling with words of encouragement and assurance. For Kasey, it might as well have been God Himself on the other end of the line. Following the conversation, he was resolute and resilient standing atop God’s promises.

On November 16, 2015, surgeons removed Kasey’s lower right leg, and he became a below-the-knee amputee.

Almost two months of recovery and rehab later, on January 6, 2016, he received his prosthetic leg. The weeks that followed challenged his resolve, but his perseverance never wavered. He adjusted to his new life, learning to walk and maneuver with his prosthesis. His vision once again focused on getting back on the gridiron.

2017-0910-subscribenowEven after all of that, in Kasey’s mind, he had never left.

“I knew it was going to be a struggle and take some work,” he said, “but I was given the opportunity to attempt it, so I was going to take advantage and just jumped right in.”

He launched into mid-winter team workouts back at Georgetown with grit, determination and a contagious positive outlook. Defensive Coordinator Shan Housekeeper said Kasey’s attitude never faltered. He soon began box jumping 40 inches and tackling weight-room workouts with an intensity coaches yearn for in their entire team.

“It doesn’t allow any room for excuses for anybody in our program,” Housekeeper said. “And that’s what you want. That’s the kind of culture you want to have and the kind of person I want to be around. We knew we had a pretty good football player, a pretty good student, and a pretty good individual, but he really showed his true quality when the injury occurred. That’s when a lot of guys will really, truly define themselves.

“He’s shown what kind of human being he is, and it’s pretty remarkable.”

• • •

Flash forward to September 1, 2016. Nearly two years have passed since Kasey’s initial injury, and now it’s the opening weekend of another football season. The turf of Toyota Stadium in Georgetown vibrates with stomps from the grandstand, as rumbles of anticipation emanate from a sea of orange and black.

The Tigers take the field for warm-ups to an eruption of cheers. A swarm of players circle to stretch, then break into position groups for pregame preparations. Among the defensive backs, there’s Kody Kasey, cutting and curling on his route with a fellow defender. As he jogs back to the line, his luminescent smile radiates from inside his helmet.

If you focused only on the joy coming from his face, you might miss what sets him apart from almost every other player at any level of football—just below his right thigh pad, he stands upon the tiger-striped prosthesis that makes up the lower half of his leg.


Kasey Headshot
"He taught me to hold on, because pain ends. He gave me hope."
          -Kody Kasey

It’s hard for him not to take a deep breath and remember the uphill climb he endured to reach this moment. Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against him, it was this day—this moment—that drove and inspired him. Two years of painful growth, patience and uncertainty transformed him physically, emotionally and spiritually—all thanks to his surpassing trust in the Lord.

That day was one Kasey and his family, friends, coaches and teammates won’t soon forget. His path had come full circle.

As only God could do, He’s taken Kasey’s trials and turned them into a multitude of good. Kasey’s sphere of influence has blossomed into a wide variety of environments. His sunny personality is magnetic; crowds linger in his presence because, simply, they feel better by his spirit and story.

“People are inspired by him,” his father, Michael Kasey, said. “Young kids want to go up and talk after the game; sometimes I can’t even get to him! If you get to know him, you’ll find a best friend for life.”

Since his return to football, Kasey’s been asked to speak all over: churches, FCA Huddles and Camps and to various groups of athletes. The miraculous story of God’s hand in his life speaks for itself as his heart spills out to the crowd.

“The best part is when kids come up to me and just tell me how I’ve inspired them to keep going,” he said. “It brings a joy to my heart.”

Last year, the Touchdown Club of Columbus awarded Kasey the 2016 President’s Award, which honors athletes who have overcome adversity and show a highly commendable dedication to athletics.

But every recognition and every encounter, he said, is a chance to call God into the spotlight: “He brought me through this journey. He taught me to hold on, because pain ends. He gave me hope. He’s using me as a living testimony of His grace to show people how loving He can be.”

• • •

Through an infectious spirit and hearty hope anchored in God, Kody Kasey has embraced servant-leadership with a willingness to encourage others and make God’s goodness known. His impact at Georgetown has reverberated through campus, and he was instrumental in starting the FCA campus Huddle.

“God really used Kody to help ignite a movement on campus to get other student-athletes involved,” said Aaron Hogue, FCA Kentucky Multi-Area Director. “We had an initial meeting with student-athlete leaders, and he was just glowing, always smiling and joyful.”

God continues to push the boundaries of Kasey’s trust, because now it’s embedded in his nature to persevere. He’s been intimately refined, and now he has a trust-and-see kind of faith that only comes from patience, not sight. He clings to Hebrews 11:1 daily: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

Kasey’s a believer in blessings beneath the burden. He’s fought and persisted and—in the face of great adversity—overcome. Suffering, he’s learned, is another way to experience God, relinquishing the apparition of control and choosing to see abundant grace.

“He broke me, but at the same time, He blessed me,” he said. “How could you not thank somebody for that?”

“He broke me, but at the same time, He blessed me,” he said. “How could you not thank somebody for that?”
Despite upcoming challenges he hasn’t even yet considered, Kasey’s confidence in God strengthens daily, holding tight to the memories of His faithfulness over the past three years.

When forced into a decision no college kid should have to make, he could have turned callous. He could have become disillusioned by his lot in life. Instead, he chose to see the good, and he experienced the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

“My faith has directed me not to become bitter, but better,” he said. “I’m learning to be bold in Christ. He gives me a spirit of determination and will, to encourage, to be brave. Not to be sheltered by this difference I have, but to embrace it.”  


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Photos courtesy of Kody Kasey and Joe Goodwin