Duke Pieper, former Hill-Murray hockey player, will share his inspiring story of survival from noon to 1 p.m. March 16 at Anoka-Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
Pieper was an elite hockey player at a young age, ranked by U.S.A. Hockey as one of the top 20 best players in the nation. He made the varsity hockey team as a freshman at Hill-Murray High School. However, before his first game began, he started to feel off. He knew something was wrong while running through the pre-game warm-ups. He took himself off the ice knowing that he wasn’t okay to play, and called his mother to tell her something was happening again.
Two years prior to this incident, doctors took a CT scan of Pieper’s brain and saw a non-cancerous lesion. It was inoperable at that time and doctors warned that it may come back. Over those two years, the lesion moved up on his brain steam causing bleeding inside his brain. This is what Pieper was experiencing during the pre-game warm-up. Through testing, it was discovered that the lesion was operable, however the surgery was deemed extremely risky.
Undergoing multiple extensive and risky surgeries involving his brain and spine, doctors only gave him a five percent chance to survive. The family worried that they would have to say good-bye and friends were preparing themselves for a funeral.
In a miraculous recovery, Pieper not only survived, he regained control of his body. After enduring two months of paralysis, multiple complications and a temporary loss of his speech, he regained his ability to walk, jog and speak.
He has even skated with his mother after years of rehabilitation therapy.
In regard to his struggles, Pieper said, “I believe that this happened to me for a reason and that reason is to help others who are facing life’s adversities.”
Pieper will speak on his story of survival and miraculous recovery during his time visiting the Cambridge community. He loves sharing his lessons and the type of motivation that enabled him to overcome the seemingly impossible.
The entire account of Pieper story is documented in I’m Alive: Courage, Hope and a Miracle, a book co-authored with Jim Bruton.
Pieper’s journey has sparked the creation of The Pieper Foundation. Their mission is to inspire and empower people to move forward with hope and courage in the face of hardship associated with life’s challenges. To learn more about Duke Pieper and the Pieper Foundation, visit pieperfoundation.org.