I am sorry for not writing an update sooner. I think we are programmed to think that anything can get repaired or replaced. Sometimes we are allowed do-overs. I think our family, the Willadsen’s and Eifrid’s, are now feeling the completely unexpected sudden permanence of Tami and Jess’s absence from our lives as I am sure many of you are too.
Dave and Jack moved into their temporary leased home in Decatur in mid-June. Very nice home, and we are happy that the insurance relocator service was able to put it together. After getting a bit use to institutional hospital care, it took Dave and Jack a few days to set-up a new routine. Before moving Dave said he was looking forward to having exterior windows so he could see things like 'rain' again. Funny how we take so many small things for granted.
Jack is doing very well. Young children are so resilient to such tragedies. He has returned to school and is attending the same school where he has been in pre-school since he was a baby. He has many friends there, and starts kindergarten this fall. Dave told me that everyone has been kind and understanding, although Jack gets a little shy when the older girls come up and hug him. Jack has physical therapy daily and many doctor appointments, and the smaller classes there make it easier to break away and catch up when he needs to leave for his appointments. Jack is walking much better but still has a few issues with nerve damage. He has been a real trooper in how he has accepted the daily routine of wearing compression garments to help the grafts heal and keep scaring to a minimum.
Dave? You can imagine what he is going through. Dave’s memories of Tami and Jess are much more ingrained and they form the fabric of who Dave is. I am sure you can understand the heartbreak he is experiencing. Things are getting better little by little, although it doesn’t take much – a song, a place, a face – for the nearly unbearable sorrow to return as it is never far away. That said, under the circumstances Dave is handling things as well as can be expected.
Dave is also dealing with all of the uncertainties of the future; mostly in regards to Jacks’ needs – physical, mental, and financial. The Grady Hospital bill was $1.2 million. Fortunately most was covered by insurance. This does not include the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital and other bills related to Jack’s care which has also been mostly covered. It has been challenging to navigate the quagmire of medical billing in what is covered, and what is not. Maximum out of pocket doesn’t really seem to mean “maximum out of pocket”.
We have learned much about burn recoveries for small children. We did not realize that grafted skin does not grow like regular skin, so addition grafts will be needed until Jack is full grown. We did not know that skin taken from such as Jack’s stomach (donation site) will want to “think” it is still stomach skin after being grafted to his hands, and does not stretch like his natural “finger” skin. Physical therapy (mostly stretching) will be needed for life.
Fortunately through your kind donations, Dave and Jack have a cushion to help defray some of these expenses in the future. It gives Dave some peace of mind, not only for the monies itself, but all the friends and family that reached out to help and were there for them. We thought about closing this fund as the total has exceeded what we thought possible. However, we decided to keep it open for a while longer. Not to collect more funds, but more so we can continue to provide additional updates. I know at some point Dave wants to personally write an update.
In closing, this photo below is a picture of a framed photo from Tami's office at The Nature Conservancy. This is one of the most touching keepsakes I have found in Tami's belongings. At some point she received this fortune in a fortune cookie and it meant so much to her that I am sure she had that heartwarming smile on her face as she taped it to the frame. You could not go into Tami’s home and not feel the overwhelming happiness.
On behalf of Dave's family, thank you so much.
Good news! Jack and Dave will be moving into their leased home as early as next Tuesday. Jack is doing incredibly well. Yesterday he was able to briefly stand on his own. He is having some nerve issues to one of his legs that is keeping him from walking or standing for a length of time. The docs feel that eventually with therapy those nerves will regenerate. Next week they will start outpatient therapy for a number of weeks. Dave is looking so forward to spending a night in a REAL bed that doesn't look like a couch or a floor. Jack will probably miss having a bed that bends to about any position. lol! Dave has been at Jack's side nearly every moment the last nearly two months since the incident. Jack has been educating the hospital staff on snakes, dinosaurs, and super-heros.
We as a family are so proud of Dave and Jack on how they are handling the process to recover from this tragedy.
Yesterday I received a letter from an Executive of the Nature Conservancy. They recently honored Tami at their recent national meeting that was attended by hundreds.
He said; " I believe that the soul endures in those whose lives we touch, and those whose lives they touch forever, and ever. There is no question that Tami's touch endures in large and small ways, continuing to shape many of us and the world that we will leave for all life to come."
Thank you so much everyone for your love and support, and your prayers.
Jack will be coming out of his induced coma this week. He is still in intensive care so visitation is still limited to family and those helping with reading and helping with meals. He probably has three more weeks at Grady, then another 2-3 weeks at Scottish Rite.
If you have not seen Jess's Nature Poster there is a photo below. We were just informed two weeks ago that she won first place in her division (they did not know of the tragedy). There were 2500 entries over 5 grade level divisions. I spoke to a spokesperson this am with The State Botanical Garden of GA. She told me that other units with the GA Dept of Natural Resources are interested in using Jess's poster image around the State. So proud of our Jess!
Please accept my apology if I can't respond to all emails. Just not enough time in the day. Thanks again for all of the support.
The initial donation of clothes, toys, books, etc. was overwhelming. Thanks so much everyone! The home that Dave will be leasing will be fully furnished and accessorized by the State Farm relocation team. So, we are good on those items until Dave finishes the rebuild. The most efficient donation is cash and time. In the near term the family will be buying/replacing some specific favorite toys, games, etc. that Jack received at Christmas that he was fond of. Jack will also need some specific clothing that he is comfortable in while he heals. (By the way, we don't know for sure but Jack seems to be going through a growth spurt. The nurses have even said he looks to be taller. If you know Jack, he is just rebuilding his "super powers"! )We also need to buy some exercise equipment that is specialized for his physical therapy. There are numerous incidental and ongoing needs for cash.
Time? I hear the Jack Rabbit Run may need some volunteers and roadside cheerers. Donations of edible treats to the incredible Burn Unit team at Grady are also much appreciated.
from the FaceBook page - "this morning's update is so great! Right now with just 24 hours before start time, we have over 240 runners registered, and have raised over $7000. Can't wait to see all these faces tomorrow! Look for 'Jack's Jar' at the registration desk for any donations kids want to make. Thanks again!" Register here; http://jrr.xorbia.com/jacksrabbitrunavondale
Thank you Sharonda Frazier for setting up this fund. She has asked that one of the family members take it over. I am Tami's dad and now the admin for this page and the fund. I noticed this am that the updates that Sharonda wrote now appear to be authored by me. That may be a little confusing...all updates posted before today are Sharonda's.
The fire directly affected three households on Lakeshore; Tami's and a home on each side that suffered property damage. Dave and Tami's neighbors have graciously waived any rights to any proceeds from this fund, and our family is very thankful. All funds will now go towards rebuilding Dave and Jack's lives. Jack's injuries will cause a long recovery ahead. We hope that Jack will be brought out of the induced coma next week to start his physical therapy. As soon as we can get a release of the property, we plan to start rebuilding the home. Although we struggle with the loss of Tami and the ever so precious Jess daily, they both would want us to concentrate on the needs of Dave and Jack. Thanks to all for the support, the love, and prayers during this difficult time - Joe Eifrid
Unfortunately, due to excessive media attention brought to the site, and use of commentary posted and attempts by media to gather private information through my social sites and business, I will not be posting any further updates publicly. Thank you for your continued support of the family.
Today's service for Tami and Jess Willadsen was such a beautiful display of love and adoration for two amazing people. Dave has requested that if you would like to honor Tami and Jess with a planting, please select a dogwood tree in their memory.
Thanks to all the wonderful supporters. Dave wants everyone to know that Jack is making improvements and getting stronger everyday. Please know that Jack has a long road ahead to healing and will need a great amount of medical care for quite some time. Every penny counts in support of that.
Originally this fund was set up by Avondale Residents and friends to support the three families impacted by the April 12th fire on Lakeshore Drive. Mother and wife Tami Willadsen, and daughter Jess lost their lives in the fire. They were survived by husband Dave with minor burns, and son Jack, who sustained major burns. Jack is currently at a local area hospital. Other than the loss of the family cat, Chika, there were no other injuries. The Willadsen home was completely destroyed, as well personal belongings, autos, and Dave's business equipment for the business he ran out of his home. The community had asked that donations be made to assist the three families as they struggle through this difficult time. Since then, the families on each side of the Willadsen household have graciously waived their rights to any of the funds so all the funds could be used for the Willadsen family recovery. A Willadsen family representative was asked to take over as administrator of this webpage and fund. Please share the page with Avondale residents and Museum School parents, as well with friends of the Willadsen family.
Thank you for your generous donations. The outpouring of love and support has been comforting. A special thanks goes out to the Avondale Estates Community.
Jack is in my son, Josh's, class at EMS. Josh is new at EMS and has enjoyed getting to know Jack since he returned to school and so have I. I chaperoned a couple field trips this Summer. Jack is such a kind and happy child.