By Leslie Moses, The Exponent Telegram
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — It’s been a long run since Robert C. Byrd High graduate Zachary Sandy, 18, was struck by lightning in July.
He’s had a hard time sleeping. Many nights, he’s wrapped himself in a blanket and walked through the house for hours to quell the pain.
What he’s felt is harsher than anything he felt in sports, which included both a concussion and getting a finger popped back into place right on the field.
After the lightning strike, “I couldn’t even walk by myself,” he said.
But if he could go back and prevent the lightning, he wouldn’t.
“I would let it,” Sandy said.
He’s working at Dairy Queen, took classes at the Gaston Caperton Center and has a whole new perspective on life.
“It’s very clear to me what I am doing,” he said.
He’s sharing his story of what happened, and along the way “he’s lost all his shyness and everything with this,” said his father, Russell Sandy.
Zach has five speaking engagements in March already.
He said he felt called to be a preacher at an early age.
But he didn’t exactly seek out that path his senior year in high school.
He didn’t run from it, either.
He played sports in school and got a scholarship to play football at Alderson-Broaddus College.
But Zach turned down the scholarship three weeks before being struck by lightning. He said he just didn’t feel like that was what God wanted him to do.
Later, he thought, “You idiot!”
Playing college football was what he dreamed about doing as a boy.
Amid all his questions was an easy choice – going to church camp, which he attended every year.
Zach was looking forward to camp, and two of his friends traveled from out of state to join him.
Camp was canceled, though, because of electrical outages in June. His friends picked another camp in Virginia; Zach stayed close to home so he could still work.
Then a family member invited him to a church camp in Parkersburg.
On the drive there, they listened to a preacher talk about miracles.
Then, on the day Zach was struck by lightning, the preacher at camp spoke about miracles. Those attending camp were told to ask for three: One for their church, one for their family and one for themselves.
Zach’s three: For church unity, strength and growth; for his family to see each other more; and a testimony for himself.
He wants his friends to know God. But they won’t always listen.
So Zach asked God for a testimony “that would blow their minds,” he said.
Later that day, he stepped on a ballfield for a softball game. He was playing left field when a lightning bolt struck him in the head.
“It was in or around 30 minutes that I was dead,” Zach said.
If her son ever prays a prayer like that again, Zach’s mother, Cheri, wants him to ask permission.
“Please run it through us first,” she jokes.
Still, he’s gotten all three miracles he asked for because of being struck by lightning.
“I kept looking at him, thinking, ‘I know this boy from somewhere,’ ” said Sheila Beerbower of Stonewood, who followed Zach’s story on Facebook.
Beerbower ordered a sundae from that blonde-haired cashier with a testimony recently.
“He’s one lucky dude,” she said. “He’s a miracle.”