Presented on: Thursday, July 15th at 6:00 PM EDT
Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again After Being Blinded by a Bear is the unbelievable true story of a man who narrowly survived one of the most brutal grizzly bear attacks and the love that separated his blindness from the dark. As a 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.
Until then, one thing after another had fallen into place in Dan’s life. He had a job he loved taking troubled kids on outdoor excursions. He had just bought a cabin high in the Chugach Mountains with a view that went on forever. He was newly in love. After a year of being intrigued by a woman named Amber, they had just spent their first night together. All of this was shattered by the mauling that nearly killed him, which left him blind and disfigured.
Facing paralyzing pain and inconceivable loss, Dan was in no shape to be in a relationship. He and Amber let each other go. Five surgeries later, partway into his long healing journey, they found their way back to each other. The couple’s unforgettable story is one of courage, tenacious will, and the power of love to lead the way out of darkness. Dan Bigley’s triumph over tragedy is a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical and emotional devastation, to choose not just to live, but to live fully.
Dan Bigley is an author, professional speaker, and the clinical director in a community mental health center for children and families. In 2003, while fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian Rivers, Dan was attacked by a grizzly bear, changing his life forever. Dan Bigley’s triumph over tragedy is a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical and emotional devastation-to choose not just to live, but to live fully. Dan now lives in Anchorage with his wife Amber and their 2 children. In 2008, Dan was presented with the Alaskan of the Year Award for serving as an inspiration for people with disabilities. Prescott College gave Dan a Distinguished Alumni Award that same year, and in 2010, a Desert Star Award, which recognizes alumni carrying forward the Prescott College mission. Most recently in 2011, Dan received the Emerging Leader Award, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Alaska where he received his Master's in Social Work with a 4.0 GPA.
Your PBC Guru Moderator:
Megan Behm is a Book Club Operations Manager at PBC Guru, a book club management company that believes in the power of lifelong learning communities centered around reading and thoughtful discussion. PBC Guru partners with more than 250 higher education alumni associations and private high schools, businesses, library systems, and professional societies worldwide to create meaningful and vibrant online book clubs. PBC Guru's virtual book clubs allow over 130,000 members to connect from anywhere they are, at whatever time is convenient. With PBC Guru, Megan develops the content for and moderates the discussions for over 50 book clubs reading titles from all genres. Before joining PBC Guru, Megan spent ten years working in the performing arts and literary industries in Washington, D.C., and New York City. She is a life-long bookworm and a proud graduate of the College of William & Mary.