MINNEAPOLIS --For 39 years Max Day has been a pastor and for 25 years he has gone deer huntinginnorthern Minnesotawith his sons on opening weekend.

This year, on the day of the hunt everything changed when Pastor Day's deer stand gave way.

"When I pulled up the step came out and I fell 15 feet flat on my back. I was thinking on the way down, this is not going to be good," Day said.

Pastor Day admits he thought in that free fall that this was it.But when he did hit ground --it wasn't. At least not exactly.

"I hit the ground and as soon as I hit the ground I had more pain than I thought a human body could survive. I reached for my legs and I knew. They were numb," Day said of learning he was likely paralyzed from the waist down.

Pastor Day said he knew in that moment his walking days were over and so, alone in those woods he reached for his cell phone.

"When my phone rang and saw it was dad I knew something wasn't right," Day's son Tim said.

Pastor Day's sons Timand Jeremy were aboutone mile away when the call came it.Theyran as fast as they couldwhile their fatherwas making a second call to his wife at home.

"He said I fell out of a tree stand and I'm going to be a paraplegic. I can't feel my legs and I'm sorry I did this to you," Sharon Day recalled.

Within 20 minutes Pastor Day's boys were there by his side and an ambulance and helicopter came minutes later.

In the two and a half weeks since then Pastor Day's congregation at Faith Baptist in Brainerd has rallied behind him posting prayers and well wishes on his Caringbridge website.

Pastor Day is rehabilitating at Sister Kenney in Minneapolis.

"I am thankful to be alive, thankful for my family," Pastor Day said.