Building a miracle: Community comes together as man overcomes terminal diagnosis

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Rick Vanderslice wasn’t supposed to see this day.

As he sits on an aged, wooden rocking chair on the front porch of his home opposite his wife, Yvonne, on a crisp, sunny fall morning in November, Vanderslice is remarkably lively for a man who, only a year ago, was expected to live just a few months.

“I just thank God above,” Rick said as he sat calmly in his chair, the weariness from a nearly yearlong battle with cancer evident in his eyes just beneath the brim of his bright orange Auburn University baseball cap. “He has moved so many mountains for me.”

About 50 yards from where Rick is sitting, a small stone staircase fortified by cinderblocks is the only remainder of a house filled with a combination of happy memories and hardship. While it was a blessing for his family when they moved into the house off Old Highway 31 in the 1960s, time took its toll on the structure, and caused it to become dangerously unstable, leaky and nearly uninhabitable.

Today, the old home is just a memory, and in its place stands a monument to the love and compassion a group of friends and strangers showed a family in its greatest hour of need. And through the community’s help, Rick has overcome what doctors originally said was an almost certain death sentence.

He doesn’t hesitate to call his current situation a “miracle from God.”