by Eric Stearley
Northfield High School Assistant Principal Max VanCleave is back at work after four and a half months of surgeries, recovery, and physical therapy following an automobile accident last October that nearly took his life.
“It feels good,” said VanCleave. “I received a very warm welcome as I came in.”
“We’re so lucky this man’s alive,” said Superintendent Sandra Weaver as she passed by his office.
VanCleave finished physical therapy near the end of January, ahead of schedule.
“That made me feel good, but it’s not about how tough I am, it’s about how God has assisted me and walked me through all this,” he was sure to note.
The accident and long recovery was a humbling experience for VanCleave. He noted how we take a lot for granted, like being able to walk, tie our shoes, and just to be alive. He wanted to be sure that everyone knew about the extensive support he was offered by the Northfield staff, the great job they did filling in for him, support offered through cards and kind words, and donation buckets put out by the athletic director during sporting events to help with his medical bills, which exceeded $1 million. He talked about the quality people he has the honor of working with on a daily basis more than he talked about his accident and injuries, but that’s just the kind of guy Max is – gracious. The remarkable odds he beat, however, cannot be ignored.
On the morning of Oct. 2, VanCleave left home earlier than usual for his morning commute from Muncie. He was scheduled to talk with Northfield teachers about a statewide bullying prevention initiative. Patchy fog covered I-69 that morning as he entered Grant County.