Ryan's Emergency & Support Fund

My lifelong love of nature and the outdoors has led me to some exciting sports. For the last 24 years I have been honing my skills as a cliff-diver. I have jumped all along the west coast from high places into beautiful pools of blue and green. My long love affair with cliff-diving just came to an abrupt end. 

I went to celebrate my upcoming 39th birthday with friends by swimming and cliff diving on the Yuba river. We had a great day and at the end of the day I climbed up to do my biggest jump, a gainer off of an 80 ft platform. I made sure to jump forward in order to clear the ledge below but when I tried to rotate into the back flip I intended to do, my forward motion slowed my reverse motion and I became stalled in a head down position. That's how I entered the water. 


The impact traveled down my spine and fractured my L1 & L2 vertebrae.  As soon as I hit the water I felt intense pain in my back. My friends were ready to jump in and get me but I gave everyone the thumbs up that I was fine and swam to the edge slowly. There I laid in the ice cold water on my back. I knew I was hurt but I didn't think my back was broken. So I got out, changed out of my wetsuit, put on my backpack and hiked out a quarter mile, then I drove myself home on a 45 minute dirt road. It was brutal. 

When I got home I started to think that maybe I had done some serious damage to a disk. I soaked in the bath  but the pain didn't let up. Luckily my wife Heather insisted that I go to the hospital. Finally, I relented and she drove us to Mercy Folsom Hospital. There they took CAT scans to image my spinal cord and brain. My neck and head came back just fine but my lower spine has suffered the impact. It's weird, like that karate trick where the guy punches the brick and the brick on the bottom breaks. 

I'm lucky that I'm not paralyzed and I'm even luckier that I'm alive. I'm facing three months of recovery time and I won't be able to work so me and my family are going to need some help. I hate asking for help and anyone who knows me knows that I never ask for help, but this is the one time I can't do anything about. I am the primary breadwinner for my family of five. We are really worried about how we are going to keep our house and pay all our bills until I can return to work. 

25883926_1512413462.9009_funddescriptionI make a little over $3,000 a month, so I'm asking for your help to replace that income so I can take care of my family for the next few months. If you're not comfortable, or if you just can't donate money, maybe you would be willing to help  or presents for the kids for Christmas. right now we have no financial cushion so the sooner we get some help the easier it will be for me to focus on recovery. 

I feel bad asking for help like this but I know that a lot of my friends have said they want to help. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I'm so grateful. Life is precious and I love my friends and family. I'm grateful to be alive. Thank you for any help you are willing to offer.
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Ryan Gatica 
Cameron Park, CA
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