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Pat Bickle, who was paralyzed for life on a high school football field 33 years ago and later became a religious leader and mentor of youth, died Saturday night. He was 50.

His family, widely known because of the international ministries based in south Kansas City established by his older brother, Mike, will be hosting a memorial service at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Forerunner School of Ministry, 12400 Grandview Road in Grandview.

Pat Bickle was a 17-year-old hardnosed defensive back for Center High School on Sept. 29, 1973, when he hurled his body at a running back on the second play of the game on North Kansas City’s football field. Bickle fell and was paralyzed from the neck down.

The Kansas City area followed his fight for life for months. The Kansas City Chiefs helped promote a high school doubleheader football game fundraiser at Arrowhead Stadium that drew thousands of well-wishers.

While his brother would establish his ministries, Pat followed a religious path as well, becoming known in his later years for counseling youth.

"He believed in their futures," sister Tracey Bickle Scott said. "He believed in who they could become and he spoke that into their lives."

He was married 17 years ago to his wife, Kim. They had a son, Malachi, 17.

Bickle was hospitalized numerous times over the years, fighting infections and pneumonia. He had recently returned home after apparently surviving another battle with his lungs, Bickle Scott said. But his lungs finally gave out near midnight Saturday.

"He believed to his last dying breath that the Lord was going to touch his body," Bickle Scott said. "He was unwavering in his faith. He was utterly in love with Jesus."
Published in Kansas City Star on May 7, 2007
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