‘I’m Alive’ author to speak at Staples Library
Duke Pieper was on top of his hockey world late in 2008, and headed even higher. As a 15-year-old freshman, he made the varsity starting lineup for the Minnesota high school powerhouse Hill-Murray.
He seemed destined for four years of prep glory and a certain scholarship to one of the premier programs in Division I college hockey. But, before he could take the ice in his first game, persistent headaches and problems with his vision sidelined Pieper.
The diagnosis was shocking - bleeding in his brain from a non-cancerous lesion. He had to have a surgery that gave him a five percent chance to live.
It seemed that all the odds were stacked against him, except one - his determination.
Over the next two years Pieper endured a half dozen extremely risky surgeries and procedures involving his brain and spine, bouts of paralysis, multiple complications and the temporary loss of his speech. He had to re-learn everything from walking talking, eating to breathing.
Pieper has written a book about his experiences and will share his story with the public at the Staples Public Library at 6 p.m., Thursday Jan. 19. He will be meeting separately with the members of The Page Turners, a tween/teen book club, prior to the public presentation.
“He has a wonderful, miracle story and a great message for young people and their parents,” said Mary Sperley, Staples.
While dining with friends last September at the Countryside Restaurant in Motley, Sperley struck up a conversation with another diner. Mark Pieper, Duke’s father, owns Hilltop Sports Center and Landscaping, Cushing, just south of Lincoln on Hwy. 10.
Mark Pieper told Sperley and her friends about his son and gave them copies of his book. Sperley read the book that night and was so impressed, she wanted to meet the author. She and her friends, Bob and Joan Hamann, went to the Arts and Crafts Fair in Little Falls where Duke Pieper had a booth.
“In visiting with him we found he would love to come up to Staples and do a book talk with the teen reading group and then have an opportunity to talk with others after he finishes that group,” Sperley said.
Sperley said the book includes points that can help people of any age work through challenging issues.
Sperley works part time at the Staples Public Library and Cathy Perish, library services coordinator, arranged for the visit.
Duke Pieper will sign copies of his book, “I’m Alive: Courage, Hope and a Miracle,” which will be for sale following his talk.
Pieper has also started a foundation “The Pieper Hope and Courage Foundation,” a non-profit organization formed to benefit anyone facing life’s adversities. He continues to inspire individuals by showing them they can overcome their physical obstacles and emotional challenges and find purpose by staying the course through their recovery and beyond.
Pieper has been enrolled at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, where he studies sports management and entrepreneurship. He’s also been involved in hockey serving as a volunteer student coach with the Falcon hockey team and assisting the coaching staff.
Pieper’s presentation is made possible by a Legacy grant and with the support of the Friends of the Staples Public Library. The library is located at 122 6th St. NE, Staples.