Hoosiers say they experienced ‘miracles’

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It's the time of year when people talk about miracles, the unexpected and the inexplicable.

A strange feeling. A bright light. A helping hand just in the nick of time.

Since the beginning of time, people have been telling stories of miracles: improbable events that puzzle the mind, stir the soul, and strike when you least expect it.

Whether you believe in miracles or not, the stories - at the very least - question what's possible. We traveled across Indiana to bring you tales of ordinary Hoosiers, who say they have experienced the extraordinary.

Hoosiers like Bruce Richardson.

Working in his Greenwood office, Richardson is the picture of perfect health. However, just two years ago, he was essentially dead. Richardson collapsed at church.

"I had no warning. There was no pain. I just completely blacked out and my heart stopped completely," said Richardson.

For 37 minutes, Richardson did not have a heartbeat.

His wife Dee thought it was over.

"Pastor Tim leaned in the car and said 'Dee I am so sorry.' And what do you think when somebody says something like that?"

But in the background, friends and parishioners were furiously praying.

Suddenly, Richardson came back. A miracle, right? Not exactly.

"They got me loaded up on the ambulance and then I died again on the way to the hospital," explained Richardson.

This time, he was gone for 30 minutes.

But those prayer grew. And then, Richardson said, the miracle happened.

Dee saw him wake up and move his hand. She said the doctors were amazed.

"'Dee, he said, I think we've just witnessed a miracle here today,'" she recalled.

Not only did Richardson come back to life twice, he didn't seem to have any apparent neurological damage. He was walking and talking like normal.

"'I feel a heavy responsibility to share the story and to share the love of Jesus Christ. He left me here so I could tell this story and be a better witness for him," said Richardson.

While Richardson doesn't remember seeing anything when he flat-lined, Cindy Heigl said she did see something when she died.

"I woke up in this paradise that was just beautiful," Heigl recalled.

For most of her life, Heigl has lived off a pacemaker. But a few years ago, that little machine in her heart failed. She said she died and woke up in paradise.

"I was lying on my back looking up at the rays of sunlight coming in through the water and I just felt, I went from the most intense awful pain I've ever felt. It was suddenly perfection and beautiful. There was no pain in this place."

An unforgettable place unlike any other. And then she said she heard a voice with an unforgettable message.

"I heard a voice and God said 'I know the number of hairs on your head and I know the number of stars in the sky. And I'm here with you. And I will be with you and you don't have to be afraid. Because you won't be alone. Be with me now, because this will all be over soon and then there is much for you to do.'"

What felt like an eternity on the other side for Heigl, was just about three minutes in the emergency room. Heigl suddenly woke back up and came back to tell a powerful story now detailed in a book called 'In A Heartbeat: My Miraculous Experience of Sudden Cardiac Arrest."

She said she wants to share her story to offer peace to especially those grieving a lost loved one.

"The extent that God goes to show us His love is just amazing. And I felt that in a tangible way in that flat line experience."

Some miracle stories wind up in the history books.

On the quiet campus of Saint Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute, the story goes that Saint Mother Theodore Guerin performed her first miracle in 1906 when she cured a nun of cancer at the Sisters of Providence.

Her second miracle came about 100 years later and happened to an unexpected person.

Phil McCord was a maintenance worker on campus. He'd just had cataract surgery and wasn't able to see from one eye. Doctors told him he needed a cornea transplant.

While he wasn't Catholic, he later said, he heard the organ in the chapel one day and felt called to pray to Mother Theodore.

Sister Rose Ann Eaton remembers the story.

"He simply said something like, 'I don't know what your power is, but I know you have power and I'm just asking for courage to go through this surgery,'" she said.

What happened next stunned the whole campus. Phil's eye healed in a matter of days.

"There was, I wouldn't even say jubilation or a lot of flag waving," recalled Sister Denise Wilkinson. "It was just, really, what happened?"

The miracle was approved by the Catholic Church and shortly after Mother Theodore was canonized.

Phil has since passed away, but his story lives on.

Each person we interviewed knows not everyone will believe in their miracle. They just want their stories to offer hope and the idea that nothing is impossible.

"Life itself is a miracle," Sister Eaton said. "Sometimes we just take it for granted."

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