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January 2018 -
Written by: 
David Marshall
Children’s Book Author/Illustrator

What is Quality of Life worth?

There is a seed of the thing deep inside Owen; it’s the seed of the person he is meant to grow to become. Like the rest of us, Owen was to have the chance to discover the things he loves enjoy doing, leading him to discover the gifts and talents he is blessed with.

On Friday, November 3, 2017, Owen’s life changed forever. A mindless and brutal act would not only change Owen's life but the lives of the family and friends who love him dearly.

That Friday would prove to be just the beginning of Owen’s battles and challenges, when surviving was the only thing that mattered. Owen was rushed to Freeman Hospital in Joplin, MO where he underwent emergency surgery. It took all of Owen’s strength and will to survive those first few hours. Only the doctors knew that merely surviving was going be the first of many tests that would challenge Owen’s strength and will.

On November 22, 2017 Owen was moved from Freeman Hospital in Joplin, Missouri and transported by air ambulance to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Upon arrival, the doctors examined Owen and found his spine was out of alignment which was causing Owen excruciating pain. His neck was being forced forward which set off a chain of painful reactions throughout his body. The doctors had no choice, they sat with the family and explained to them why they must perform a 12-hour surgery to correct the alignment. They completed the operation, and Owen spent days in ICU and step down all over again. Owen was then moved back to Craig Hospital where he would start the rehab process basically all over again. 

It takes a team to care for Owen. Five days a week Owen is in rehab. It would be like any of us going to the gym five days a week and working out five to six hours a day, no exceptions. Now imagine doing this confined to a wheelchair, and you have no mobility from the chest down.

Of all this, there is another battle Owen faces as consistently and relentless as the physical limitation, the emotional and psychological battle. This takes a strength that cannot be described or imagined. There is a dark place that none of us would dare enter if we had the choice. But this young man didn’t have a choice and he fights these battles every second of every day. Only those dealing with significant illness and limitations understand these challenges.

If Owen continues on this path, he will be going home March 8th where a new set of challenges face both Owen and his family.

Owen’s family members each have their responsibilities which are also never-ending. There is the management of Owen’s care which is handled by Owen’s mother, Jennifer and his father, John. There are the financial responsibilities. Managing the medical bills, acquiring donations for supplies, the logistics for the supply delivery to Owen’s mother's house where extensive renovations must take place in order for Owen to come home. As if all this isn’t enough, there is the challenge of raising the funds to purchase necessities for Owen’s quality of life. 

There are so many amazing and inspiring stories waiting to be told about this family. This family is to be commended and admired for pulling together as one in the darkest of times, working as one family with hope in their hearts, with one common goal, to love and care for Owen. Love trumps every obstacle, every fear, every challenge. Love holds power to transform us.

Once the fears of not knowing if Owen would survive were put to rest, thanks to the talented and gifted doctors, specialists and nurses who worked together as a team that gave Owen a chance at life, the question became, but what kind of life can Owen expect? To what level of quality of life can Owen look forward to?

If the answer came down to Owen’s strength and the depths of his will you wouldn’t be reading these words today. Owen would be up and be doing those things he loves most to do. Driving his diesel truck, enjoying the outdoors, spending time with his family, and hanging with his friends. He would be looking within himself and asking himself, what do I want to do, who do I want to become?

Unfortunately, it is not just about Owen’s strength and will to live. Like so many of these cases, the quality of life is in direct proportion to how much money can be raised. To give Owen even a shot at a few basic needs that most of us take for granted, he will need financial resources, significant renovations, a wheelchair accessible van and around the clock care for the rest of his life. Then, there are the daunting challenges of satisfying all his medical bills and needs. 

Owen’s life continues to be a series of challenges that will not allow him to rest. He is fighting with the strength of ten men from a wheelchair. Owen is climbing a mountain, and he needs your help.

Owen’s mother, Jennifer, has taken FMLA leave from her job. In less time than it takes to blink your eyes, her job became taking care of Owen. It’s a job she will have to balance for the rest of her life. 

Jennifer’s life she now gives to Owen. 

If you knew her, then you know there was no decision to make. It was made with the power of a mother’s love for her son. Parents love cannot be measured, and to many of us that is a given, but it’s a level of love, that for many of us, will never be tested.

From the beginning, Owen’s mom and dad have worked together to support Owen. Jennifer sleeps in his room, his dad, John sleeps in the accommodations the hospital has provided. After all Owen and his family have been through, the journey has only just begun. Now they have the challenges of providing a quality of life for Owen.

Unless you have been through this level of crisis, the emotional toll a crisis like this takes on a family, the entire family, is something that is all but impossible to imagine let alone described in words. But, there is no limit to the power of the human spirit. To see people rise to the occasion of helping others in need. It’s a power that can never be underestimated. Indeed, it has to be one of God’s greatest pleasures to see us show up in this way, and it is also this family’s greatest hope.

There is nothing more humbling than to be on the receiving end of giving. A family is never more humbled than when friends and total strangers come to offer you their help and support, yet, it’s what we do when we are at our best. It’s where we excel as human beings.

When your family is in need, most of us are limited in our resources, and we don’t know what to do, who comes to our side? Who stands beside you and walks your path with you? It is those who give. Walking beside this family can show up in many ways. 

It is impossible for the seed deep inside of Owen to grow into anything other than the God-designed destiny He gifted him with, and he needs your help.

We are asking you to give a gift of donation. No amount is too small, and all donations are deeply appreciated. 

November 2017 - Original post:
On November 3, 2017 a parent’s worst nightmare became a heart-wrenching reality for John and his wife Debbie when they received the life-changing call informing them that John’s youngest son, Owen, was being taken to the hospital in critical condition and had no feeling from the chest down. Owen was brutally and violently attacked.   Owen was assaulted and battered by another boy from his tech school while taking up for a young lady who was being disrespected.  The boy picked him up from behind as he was walking away and slammed him hard on the ground, landing on his head and shoulders breaking his neck.  The violence Owen endured caused him to suffer a traumatic fracture of the C6-7 (lower neck).  He underwent the first stage of cervical spinal surgery on November 4, 2017.  The neurosurgeon described to the family that he usually only sees this type of injury from a high velocity car crash or a fall from a house rooftop.  The neurosurgeon was able to obtain good spinal alignment and place hardware to stabilize his spine and neck from the front.  On November 9, 2017 Owen had to undergo another surgery to stabilize his neck and spine again, this time from the back of the neck.  This second surgery was the most painful as it required the surgeon to go through more ligaments and muscle.  He remained in ICU until November 15th and then was transferred to step down ICU where he will remain until his departure for spinal cord rehabilitation.  Owen and his family are believers and are strong in their faith.  The way the family and Owen have dealt with this is inspirational.  Owen maintains his positive nature and attitude.  He is always joking with the nurses and staff in his typical loving fashion.

Owen Looper, 19 years of age, is now a complete C6-7 quadriplegic.  Owen has some sensation in his shoulders and arms.  We are praying for movement in his hands and are hoping that in time he can develop those motor nerves.  His rehabilitation journey will require him to spend more than 12 weeks in spinal cord injury rehabilitation therapy.  The family was so grateful when Owen was accepted to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.  Craig Hospital is one of the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the county.  He will depart by air ambulance for Colorado, November 22, 2017.

Owen grew up in the small town of Fairland, Oklahoma and graduated Fairland High School in May 2017.  Owen is known for his loyal and kind disposition.  He has a beautiful heart and recognizes when a hug could help brighten someone’s day.  He loves all the things that come with growing up in the country.  Country music, camouflage, diesel trucks and a simple life are some of his favorite things.

Owen’s mother Jennifer Delamatter has been by Owen’s side 24/7 since the injury occurred.  She has been off work since his assault and will need to be with Owen in Colorado.  She and John want to support Owen in his rehabilitation and learn how to support his recovery and future.  They plan to stay at Craig Hospital during Owen’s rehabilitation the entire 12 weeks and his extended family will travel to visit as much as possible.  It will be important for Owen to be surrounded with encouragement during this physical and emotional life changing journey.

This GoFundMe page was created to begin raising funds to help with the costs of such a horrific injury.  Please join us in a donation and share the page.  There are so many things these funds can help provide: 

Medical expenses


Transportation by air ambulance

Travel & Lodging


Renovations to accommodate handicap lifestyle

Family members lost wages

Owen’s medication

Quadriplegic's lifetime care averages $1,000,000
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Debbie Looper 
Broken Arrow, OK
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