One year ago, a member of the 5 On Your Side team had his life changed forever.
Steve Harris, the director of the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscast, started at KSDK in 2015. At the time, he was suffering from a herniated disc in his spine and things were slowly getting worse.
“I can remember distinctly, him walking a little bit slower and then he came in with a cane,” said KSDK Sports Director Frank Cusumano.
Steve opted for surgery to try and repair the herniated disc but during the surgery, doctors realized the disc had calcified. They also found part of that calcified bone had broken off and punctured Steve’s spine.
“I came out of the surgery and they basically told me that I was paralyzed,” Steve said.
For more than a year Steve has been a paraplegic.
“You’re basically having to learn how to function in a completely different way,” he said.
Steve spent months in rehab just trying to learn the most basic skills. It took a long time for Steve and his wife Michele to get a handicapped accessible van so that Steve could return to work.
Several changes had to be made to the KSDK studios including building a handicapped accessible desk. There were also new configurations in the control room, where directors coordinate the entire newscast, from which video to roll to which microphones are used.
Foot pedals became hand pedals, desks were raised and new buttons were added. A re-wiring of sorts so that Steve could simply do his job.
But when Steve came back to work, nothing seemed to have changed.
“Since he’s come back, he has not missed a beat,” Cusumano said.
Steve is sharing his story with 5 On Your Side viewers because September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. He wants to not only show his struggles but also show resilience and foster hope.
Unfortunately for Steve, those struggles persist. He is in pain most nights at work. He battles nerve pain and very stiff muscles regularly.
“I’m tired all the time,” said Steve.
But not once has he let his 5 On Your Side team down, and he’s never let his injury define him.
Cusumano said, “In my almost 25 years here, I have worked with tons of directors and there is nobody like this guy.”