A near-fatal surfing accident in 1995 shattered the early dreams of Micah McElveen. Lifeflighted to a Florida hospital with a broken neck, the aspiring athlete awoke as a quadriplegic in intensive care. The years of rehabilitation that followed restored to him much of the use of his arms and legs – but the accident set him on a new journey.
Returning to school with some lingering paralysis in his arms, McElveen turned to a new sport that depended on footwork: soccer. And, consumed with the idea of spending, not wasting, his life, he sought to develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ — a relationship he wanted to share with others. “We’re not guaranteed a long life,” he says. “The truth is, our time on earth is like a vapor. When you realize that, you learn to live it differently.”
In college, he played soccer and the idea of using sports as a platform for ministry began to develop. He spent time in an African slum among people whose intrinsic poverty became his struggle, too. In him, God’s heart for the poor and neglected also began to beat.
“I felt like I had come to a crossroads, and I would either waste the rest of my life trying to forget what I saw, or spend it by doing something about it,” McElveen says. An idea began to form, ultimately becoming a vision and, within a year, he moved to that African slum to establish the first Vapor center.