Doctors once thought Hal Elrod’s enthusiasm and positive view of life was a sign of a serious problem. They came to realize that Elrod, who goes by the moniker “YoPalHal,” is just one of those rare people who refuses to let anything in life get him down, including being found dead at the scene of a horrific head-on auto crash.
Elrod brought his story and infectious attitude to CVTC recently for two presentations titled “Taking Life Head On,” which is also the title of his new book.
The motivational speaker’s message for students is they can live the life of their dreams, and it starts with loving the life they have now.
Elrod was already giving motivational speeches before the crash that gave him the material to take his message on the road. He was a top salesman for a kitchen cutlery company that made in-home demonstrations and often spoke to fellow sales professionals.
On the way home from one speech, he had a head-on collision at 70 mph with a pickup truck going the wrong way on a freeway. It was the second vehicle going 70 mph that slammed in to the side of his car as he spun around that did the real damage.
Elrod broke 11 bones, including his pelvis in three places, and was immediately thrown into a coma. He died as he was being removed from the wreckage of his new Ford Mustang and it was five minutes later before EMTs restored his heart beat and respiration.
Doctors feared he would have permanent brain damage and never walk again. When he seemed cheerful and excited about life in the face of such a prognosis, the doctors worried.
“The doctors thought I was in denial because I was so happy,” he said.
The reality of the situation led Elrod to one his main lessons for students.
“Accept all things you can’t change,” he said.
Elrod explained that he couldn’t change the fact the accident happened or his condition, but could take joy in the fact that he was alive. He thought about his goal of walking again, and making his back-from-the-dead experience a part of his motivational address.
“Taking life head on means learning to love the life you have while you create the life of your dreams,” he said.
He said he believes the old adage “everything happens for a reason,” but the reasons are not pre-ordained.
“We get to choose the reason, and the reason we decide affects the quality of our life,” he continued.
“Finally, he urged the students to “be grateful for everything” and to “create consistent progress towards the life of your dreams.”
Elrod’s appearance was sponsored by the CVTC Student Government Association.