BAXTER, Iowa — “I feel lucky to be here man,” said Joe Amadeo. In the blink of an eye, he was fighting for his life. “I remember looking at my watch after clocking in a couple miles and the next thing I know I was waking up in the hospital,” Joe Amadeo said.

On a morning jog in Palm Springs, California on March 16th while visiting his parents the 27-year-old Baxter high school teacher and wrestling coach was hit by a car. “The doctors and surgeons they saved me and they helped me through the early recovery process,” said Amadeo.

Joe was rushed to a nearby hospital and he was unconscious for four straight days. Amadeo said, “Wrist surgery, brain surgery, I fractured my nose, both orbitals and several bones in my face.”

Life-saving surgeries that may have been possible thanks in part to the driver. “The person that hit me stopped and called the police and stayed on the scene. They actually gave me their sweatshirt because I only had a tank top on,” said Amadeo.

Miraculously ten days later he walked out of the hospital on his own but not without support from countless Iowans from the Baxter community and his alma mater Dowling Catholic. “You never realize how fortunate you are to have amazing people in my life until something like this happens and then all this love and support is coming my way. I’m a lucky person,” Amadeo said.

In 2017 Baxter athletics split from a joint partnership with Collins-Maxwell. Until coach Amadeo, Baxter never sent a Bolt wrestler to Wells Fargo Arena for the state tournament. In the last two years, they have sent three to State. Joe is using those moments as fuel for his own recovery. “No wins are gonna come easy and like I said I’ve seen my guys do incredible things over the past couple years. They’ve inspired me since before the accident and they continue to inspire me every day,” said Amadeo.

Those athletes are now cheering for their coach. Carter Smith is a freshman and wrestled at Baxte. He said, He’s gotta keep fighting. It sounds like he’s recovering really well so he’s fighting really good right now.”

It is a fight Amadeo feels he’s not fighting alone. “I miss my students. I miss the community. I’m just grateful for every day,” said Amadeo.

Joe has another wrist surgery scheduled April 5. Physical therapy will continue to be ongoing and Amadeo will need to be cleared by a neurosurgeon before going back to work in the Baxter Community School District.