Christopher Needs Your Help!

$36,631 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 247 people in 46 months
On Thursday, August 27th Chris Van Niekerk was severely burned from the chest up in a tragic accident and was rushed to The Ross Tilly Burn Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Beyond his extensive surgeries, Chris could use your help with after-care expenses, including medicines, skin treatments, and therapy. Initial support has been overwhelming. We all want Chris to get the best help available so he can get back to his daily life. We’re confident that with your support we can help him do that.

We are all, including, Chris, his wife Kristen and their three children (Ocean, 6; Beckett, 1; and Oakleigh, 8 weeks) are grateful beyond words for any donation.

Christophers Progress

We wanted to give you updates on his journey as we go through the next couple of months.  The strength, support and the many words of kindness helps Chris, so we wanted to share this with you.

August  28th - First day in the hospital with the incredible team of Ross Tilley Burn Unit.  The first skin graft surgery and   everything goes well with family, friends and co-workers at the hospital to give  their support.  

August 29th - Second surgery

August 30th - With his eyes still swollen and in a semi-concious state due to the burns.  Chris still shows his passion for sports when his family turns on the Blue Jays Baseball game in his hospital room.   Everytime a Jays playered scored a run, his hand gestures reflected his emotion of each Blue Jays run.  Click here below how the Blue Jays support Sunnybrook Hospital.

September 3rd - GoFundMe fundraising account is created and is lauched to raise money for Chris and his family.

September 4th - Chris went into surgery this morning at 10am as planned.  This is going to be a longer surgery as this will be a bigger skin graft procedure.  

September 5th - Just received another update from Christophers Mom.  As mentioned on Friday September 4th Christopher had a long day in surgery with skin grafting.  The doctors are expecting the grafting to heal and be in good condition.  Christopher will be heavily sedated over the weekend to make sure that he is comfortable. 

September 6th - He has had 3 surgeries.  First was his neck, chest and shoulders with donated skin. Second was his face with donated skin, and third was all of it redone but, with his own skin which came from his upper legs.

September 7th - On behalf of Chris and Kristen, their families would like to express their heartfelt thanks for the generous donations which will help Chris and Kristen over the coming months. We are so grateful.

September 8th -  Christopher is in good hands with the care he is receiving at the hospital. He is not allowed visitors except immediate family for the next week or so. His eyelids are still swollen so he can`t see and his face is all bandaged up so he cannot speak. You can only imagine how difficult this is for him. He`s been sedated a lot and has a few moments of wakefulness, but he doesn`t understand what`s going on and the nurses told us not to give him any more information other than that he`s in the hospital. Tomorrow the dressings come off.

September 9th - On Wednesday Christopher had his head and facial dressings removed. Today he had the tube taken out of his throat. He is talking, making eye contact but is unsure of what’s happening to him. For his family, they have had time to process what has happened and what Chris has been through. For Chris, this is day one. Now the real work begins.

September 12th - Saturday, .Sep 12 is a happy day. Chris is lucid, speaking well and almost sounds like he did before. He has many questions and he remembers what happened but does not know why he fainted. He is so good, in fact, he invited his brothers to watch the Blue Jay game in his room. He stood up, with help from the nurses, for a few seconds today. He should be sitting in a chair tomorrow. He is strong, he is a survivor and we love him.
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Hi everyone,

I’m finally home from the hospital after a little more than three months. I’m definitely ready to go home and work on getting back in to the swing of things.

I wanted to let everyone know how humbly thankful Kristen and I are for the support we have received. It’s quite a long list of people and in time we will get to thanking you all, but in the meantime please know how much your support has meant to us and how lucky we are to have you in our lives.

For those who don’t know, while camping in August I somehow fainted or blacked out at the campfire. Kristen had just left for home with baby Oakleigh and I was going to enjoy the night with Ocean, Beckett and two of my nieces. I was fortunate enough to roll out of the fire and wake up on my own. After getting help from some wonderful campers, I was sent to Sunnybrook hospital for several surgeries on my face, shoulders and chest. I’ve been recovering and rehabbing since then.

An injury like this, probably like any traumatic injury is both physical and emotional. I can handle the physical but I must admit the emotional has been tough. I don’t care to look at myself, I notice all the flaws like my damaged ear, or my collapsed nose, or the scars which are still in the process of healing. With skin grafts like what I have you have to fight the skin from contracting, which limits range of motion, facial expressions, even how much I can open my mouth. I have daily exercises to do for this and don’t always see progress but I know if I remain committed I’ll get this back. I have to wear a clear mask for the next year. Waiting out the recovery time is no fun, but I’ve met other burn survivors who are further along than me, and in a few months, maybe a few years, you’ll have to look pretty hard or know my story to tell I’m a bit different. Not only that but I’ve seen so much positivity from those who have visited, other patients here, and such an amazing medical staff. Even though I look a bit different now, I will recover and become a stronger man from this experience. And it could have been worse, neither my hands, sight or hearing were damaged.

What I’m most grateful for from this experience is how my community was able to help me when I was in need. So many people were so quick to jump on board and help us, whether it was with dinners, dog walking, baby sitting, lawn cutting, or something monetary. A hockey tournament and fundraiser were held for me where I heard stories of reunions and good times. Unfortunately it’s tragedies like mine that brings people together, but I’m really proud and honoured for it. I’m eternally grateful for everything and in time I will use my experience to pay the support forward to others in need.
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NOTE: November 21st update

Chris has been at St. John’s Rehabilitation Center for a month now. Every morning he has an hour of occupational therapy and in the afternoon he has another hour of physio therapy. He keeps busy with stretching of his skin grafts on his face, chest and shoulders. He has full range of his left arm where he had the deepest burn. It’s a slow process. Everytime we see him we see that he is making progress. Every Monday he goes to a chiropractor in Orillia who does deep tissue therapy on his burns and his sore foot. It is extremely painful but very helpful. He has had to have a new clear mask made to fit him tighter than the old one. He has been coming home weekends to be with Kristen and the family. He’s gone to a couple of Ocean’s hockey games and plays with Beckett. He's not used to the mayhem at home and is working on getting up to speed. His brothers Phill and Greg take him to the movies on Tuesday nights and Jeff visits as often as possible. He has a discharge date now in early December and he's excited to be home permanently.
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Chris had his eye lid surgery last week and the dressings came off this past Monday. His eyelids have to heal again and are still swollen, but at least he can close his eyes now. He was moved to St. John's rehabilitation facility today. Chris is hoping they can help him with his foot which has been giving him considerable discomfort. He no longer uses a walker and now walks on his own although his balance is not great. He is in a considerable amount of discomfort mostly when he's resting his foot and is hopeful it will improve soon. Chris will be very busy with exercise, physiotherapy and recovery at rehab, to enable him to get back home with his family as soon as possible, although he could be there anywhere from two to six weeks or maybe longer, depending on his progress. He went home for Thanksgiving for two days which was really good for him. It was great for him and his family to be together, It was easier coming home than going back to the hospital. Chris wears a mask and is building up to wearing it the suggested 23 hours a day. He has a tensor vest and gloves which he wears at all times. These garments are to help with flattening the new skin and minimize scar tissue and has seemed to have made a difference, especially on his neck and hands. There has been a lot of activity the last few weeks and it's been a bit tough for Chris. He stays determined to get through each day and eventually get life back to normal.
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Chris is doing well and is in good spirits. He now wears a clear mask to help with smoothing out his skin. He wears it for an hour a 4-5 times a day right now leading up to wearing it 24/7. He had a procedure done yesterday to check his heart, just to rule that out as to why he fainted. Turns out his heart is great and no more tests will have to be done on it. Chris is trying to figure out, to ease his own mind, as to exactly why this happened. He thinks it was pure exhaustion that caused his to fall into the fire. We are getting bits and pieces from the kids that were there at the time and we are trying to put this puzzle together. He will have eye surgery either Friday or sometime next week, likely the latter. He is looking really good and the doctors have done a fabulous job.
His children came to visit again this past weekend and again it went well. Beckett really warmed up to his Dad and had a lot of fun with him. Ocean sees past the mask and only sees HER DAD and you can see in the way she looks at him the complete adoration she has for him. It was a happy day.
I must add that we, family and friends, are so very proud of his strength, courage and determination at how hard he is working to be back home with his family. Keep up the good work Chris.
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Read a Previous Update
A Crowdfunding-Website-Review.com campaign
Marian Wild
45 months ago
1
1

the hockey tournament for Chris for the weekend kicks off today @ 6 pm at Holly-please come out to support if you can

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Nikola Gulley
46 months ago
1
1

Apply for outpatient treatment at St. John's rehab hospital that specializes in burn care. Worth the commute!

+ Read More

$36,631 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 247 people in 46 months
Created September 1, 2015
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DH
$100
Denise Haelzle
36 months ago

Stay strong and keep healing, Chris. Sending positive thoughts to you and your beautiful family.

NM
$50
Nasim Mahani
37 months ago
$30
Anonymous
42 months ago
LH
$50
lori hodgson
42 months ago
1
1
GP
$100
George & Shirley Pappas
43 months ago
1
1

Thinking of you and your Family

SM
$200
Shane Mayes
43 months ago
1
1
KF
$50
Ken & Kathy French
44 months ago
1
1

Thinking of you all and keeping you in our hearts.

BK
$50
Bill & Kara Kennedy
44 months ago
1
1
$55
Anonymous
44 months ago
1
1
LM
$20
Lisa Myers
44 months ago
1
1

Hope that you continue on your speedy recovery. All the best to you and your family

Marian Wild
45 months ago
1
1

the hockey tournament for Chris for the weekend kicks off today @ 6 pm at Holly-please come out to support if you can

+ Read More
Nikola Gulley
46 months ago
1
1

Apply for outpatient treatment at St. John's rehab hospital that specializes in burn care. Worth the commute!

+ Read More
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