Let's help Chris own this!!!!!
Above: Chris participating in the Spartan race - Spring 2014
Above: First day after Chris's accident
On Saturday evening, August 30, 2014, Chris had an accident while diving into Lake Mattoon. He was immediately rushed to Carle Hospital and was told he had severe spinal trauma resulting in paralysis. On Labor Day Monday, Chris underwent surgery for 8 hours with the hope that his spine could be surgically stabilized using steel rods and screws. While the surgery was successful in that regard, he remains paralyzed from the chest down. He does have use of his arms and hands, although weak. The surgeons say that it is likely he will never regain the feeling back. Soon after the surgery he developed respiratory problems that placed him on a ventilator for weeks and ultimately led to pneumonia. Chris is slowly recovering and will soon be admitted to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to start the long, grueling process of trying to regain as much mobility as possible. While there are no certainties, he is determined to recover.
The past month has been a harrowing experience both for Chris and all of us who love him. He's had countless visitors from friends, family and co-workers (Chris is a union electrician for Bodine Electric). The support has comforted and strengthened Chris. Looking forward, more support is needed. While Chris is at the Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC) working hard to gain back every bit of mobility he can, we are busy making arrangements so Chris has a seamless transition into a new way of life. He will need help paying medical/service bills over and above insurance coverage, acquiring a specialized wheelchair, a wheelchair access vehicle, and a home specially outfitted for someone with a disability (ADA/American Disablities Act design). Chris is one of the most determined young men you will ever meet. In the past year, he has undergone a big life change losing 90 pounds, working out six days a week, participating in running events, and eating healthy. It's this same determination that will allow Chris to continue thriving under the new set of circumstances.
Above: Chris, determined to communicate with the help of his dad
Above: Always a positive attitude!
Above: Chris with Wendi, his biggest and most proud supporter!
Above: Chris looking forward to RIC, his determination and strength is incredible!
A note from Chris on September 29th, the night before leaving for RIC:
"This is long overdue. I would like to thank John and Michelle Mathews for helping save my life the night of my accident. And again to John and Brandon Vaughn for never leaving my side that night. I have been in the ICU for over four weeks, fighting for what spectacular things I have yet to a accomplish with my life. To Wendi Hendricks, you are my rock, you have been here countless days helping me hang on. You have truly personified grace under pressure, I love you. I couldn't imagine fighting this alone from the woman I love, to the family that immediately came to my side from every corner of the U.S. 30 days of ICU, and not one night has someone not been by my side 24/7.
The outpouring of thoughts and prayers from friends and family has been overwhelming, it has brought my gruff facade to tears on many occasions. There has always been a constant flow of guests, and that means the world, from the expected to the completely unexpected, I do know I am loved by many and will forever be touched.
I must thank my wonderful nurses and doctors, you saved my life in the most grim of moments days after the accident. You are my angels, my saviors.
Tomorrow I will be transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the best in the country, and cutting edge. This begins a new chapter in life, the harder I work the better the results. As you all know me, it's right up my alley. I will fight, I will compete, I will crash, yet stand tall. Continue your prayers, they are needed. I'm on a mission, and I'm gonna own this"
We will update this feed every couple of weeks as Chris's progress continues.
- John Dawson
- IBEW 51 Champaign Unit
- Leann Chupp
- Matt McKay
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