Help our teammate Ryan Joseph

$210,582 of $500,000 goal

Raised by 2,395 people in 19 months
Created January 11, 2018
Everyone’s friend, 16 year old College Park High School Falcon sophomore Ryan Joseph, son of Kristin and Tom Joseph, suffered a life changing spinal cord injury in a  wrestling meet on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.  Currently Ryan is paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own.  Hopes and prayers are for Ryan to have a speedy recovery and one day regain mobility for independent living. Ryan is being well-treated at the John Muir Trauma ICU in Walnut Creek.  Unfortunately, he is unable to receive visitors at this time, but cards are welcome.

Ryan is well known by friends, teachers and coaches for his charm, exceptional wit and humor.  His family gives heartfelt thanks for the kindness and support they have received from the many communities Ryan has touched at College Park High School, Pleasant Hill Middle School, and Pleasant Hill Elementary.  Special thanks to his beloved wrestling and lacrosse teams.

Please help support Ryan in his time of need!  This will help his family with medical expenses, rehabilitation,  and home accessibility.
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August 2019
As I posted last month, Ryan is participating in a new study at Craig Hospital. He recently completed his first 20 sessions and had his evaluations and we are pretty excited! When you watch someone every day, it is sometimes hard to see the small changes, and the way Ryan has progressed, all his small changes have translated into some pretty big changes. We just got the results of his first eval back from the study, and WOW! He has definitely had some changes! In the 16 categories that they evaluated, he improved in 8. He still has a lot of things he is working on, but just to see the improvements on paper and get a sense of what is going right is pretty inspiring. Kind of fun to also see his therapists pretty excited about the progress too.

Ryan has gone from walking with crutches to being able to walk with someone behind him guiding his hips (during therapy) without arm support. His right tricep has made a bit more of a comeback too, almost back to normal. He works on his hands daily and we hope to have some more recovery there too, which would be game-changing. This new round of therapy has proved to be extremely challenging, as coordinating his trunk and legs is not as easy as it would seem. Lots of muscles have strengthened and in some cases have made other parts of walking more difficult as his body wants to compensate for the weaker muscles, which in some cases makes trying to walk correctly even more difficult. He is constantly training his body to do what is “normal” and this new study has been a really great way to do it. He has another 20 sessions and then will be evaluated again towards the beginning of September – we will keep everyone posted!

We wrapped up summer with a visit from Tom and Haley for a few days – we had not seen them since spring break in April, so it was nice to have our family all together and in one place. They were able to see all the new therapy and progress in person before heading back so that Haley could start her Sophomore year at College Park. School started here in Colorado this last Tuesday and Ryan was able to schedule all the classes he needs for graduation into an afternoon session. One of the Econ classes he needed was only offered 5th period, so in order to attend that class he goes from therapy from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm to class at 12:40. This involves getting Ryan in the car, taking the wheels off the chair and into the car, throwing the base in the trunk and racing to school in 10 minutes. With just a little more training I think I will be able to qualify as a member of an Indy car pit crew!

I sometimes forget that he has been at this for a year and a half. It surprises me some days that given an opportunity to not go to therapy, Ryan always chooses the workout. Early this month we had a day where the elevator was not working. He had a choice to wait for the elevator repair people (and likely miss all of therapy for the day) or try to go down the stairs himself. He picked the stairs and powered down without stopping (and without crutches) and with minimal help from me (other than balance). Going down stairs is a lot more challenging than going up, and a little more scary from my end if he toppled, but we made it down in less than 10 minutes and it probably took me longer to grab the folding chairs I had set up at each landing as a precaution and put them away than it did for him to make it down. When I came back down he was mad, and I could not figure it out because the whole thing from start to finish was pretty much perfect. Come to find out he was mad because he was late for therapy…sure!

On the home front, our house is almost habitable, but like Ryan, still has a long way to go. This summer, the big focus has been on sheetrock/texturing, flooring, painting, bathrooms, heating/mechanical and final electrical. Darren Kelly, our architect (Darren M. Kelly, Architect), did a fantastic job of blending the look of our old house with Ryan’s new addition. The house will be able to accommodate Ryan in his wheelchair, but we have been holding off on some details to see where he ends up in terms of access and maybe not need some things, which seemed unthinkable when we first started. Tom has been coordinating a lot of the construction towards the end, and has relied on old friends and new for advice and direction. I am working on a list of contractors and friends that have helped and hope to have that posted soon. It is a LONG list and I am trying to capture everyone that has participated. We continue to be blown away on a daily basis by the kindness and generosity of so many people. To give you an idea of the type of kindness we are talking about, when Tom and Haley were in Colorado, there was not a lot going on at the house. A day before they were going to be home, we got a text and e-mail from Tony Souza (Spartan Electrical) that said “Ryan Ready!” with a picture of a new wheelchair ramp and landing so that Ryan could get in when he was ready to come home since we don’t have any of the paving in place yet – all a surprise to us (along with an amazing front yard dump run and weeding job by his kids in the yard!). Then just a few days after they got home and it was so hot, the Maxon family came by with air conditioners and installed them so they would not melt in the heat, unbelievable! These are just two recent examples of the many kind and generous acts that we have been the recipients of. What is hard is mentioning just these two because I could make a list of a hundred more, all recent too, then if you go back to the very beginning, it just makes your head spin. It makes you look at the world in a very different way when you are surrounded by so much kindness and good. We appreciate the large, the small, and everything in between very much, and most days it all just leaves us without words.

Thanks to all of you who keep rooting for Ryan! He is working hard! - The Joseph Family

Photos/Video Links (Some of these are posted on the site)

Video 6 Minute Walk Test on Eval Day (Posted)

Video Walking 8-16-19 – No Arm Support (Posted)

Wired up – All the wires being connected for therapy (Posted)

The Stairs – The long way down

Good Day
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July 2019
He’s wired up and ready to go! Ryan completed his first week of a new study he is participating in this summer. The study has potential for further improvements to his recovery, and we are very lucky to have a spot. He does 3 hours of therapy all wired up – 1-1/2 hours of occupational therapy and 1-1/2 hours of physical therapy every day as part of the study. It is similar to what he did last summer, but the electrodes are placed directly on his spinal cord just above his injury site and the strength of the electrical current is stronger. The study group has had good results with other patients and we are very excited to see how Ryan fares at the end of this. He will be evaluated in 20 session chunks, and if he is making progress he will move to the next 20 sessions up to 80 sessions possible. It was kind of fun to see the progress he has made over the last year when they did the initial evaluation this week. Last year when he started he could not even sit at the edge of the mat without assistance; this year he can transfer himself from his chair to the mat, walk using crutches and was able to stand unassisted for his record of 5 minutes. Those are some of the big changes, but there are a ton of little changes that have made things much easier too. We are working with a great team of therapists and staff and are pretty excited. Keep your fingers crossed! The future is now…

In addition to the therapy, summer has been busy – Ryan had a birthday, his grandparents and aunt came for a visit and he has been out to the movies and a concert with friends from Engelwood HS. We are settled in our new apartment too. We had a little bit of a mail snafu, so apologies to anyone that sent us mail – we had a few weeks where things just went missing and we have not been able to track some things down. Our new address is:
Craig Hospital
C/O Guest Services
Attention: Ryan Joseph
3425 S. Clarkson Street
Engelwood, CO 80113

On the home front, the house is getting closer to being able to occupy. We have had a dedicated group working on the house and it is moving along. Thank you to all of the groups that have made donations of materials, labor and services (and lots of advice) towards making the house accessible for Ryan. There are so many people that have had a hand in this part of our journey and the incredible kindness and generosity that has been extended to our family is hard to comprehend. I am putting together a list and we will share the list of participants and their contributions.

As always, thanks for being a part of our recovery and journey! Happy summer!

-The Joseph Family

The same photos and videos are also above.

All wired up!

Triceps with electrical stimulation

Sit to stands with electrical stimulation
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Happy summer and congratulations to all the graduates out there! We have seen a lot of graduation photos, and have been hearing news of where everyone is going to school next year and summer plans which has been fun for us!

Ryan finished up his Junior year at Engelwood High School this May and is looking forward to some down time this summer. I have to laugh though, because down time for Ryan is just cranking up the therapy hours! We are pretty excited for this summer - Ryan was selected for a new study they are doing at Craig Hospital that has a lot of potential for his recovery. The study team will be using electrical stimulation on his spinal cord (all external) and he will be doing many of the same activities he did last summer – a lot of walking and a lot of work with his hands and arms doing repetitive motions hoping to spark a connection. We anticipate he will start the study some time in July and depending on his progress, he could possibly go through October. I know it makes people crazy when we can’t tell them exactly when we will be home, but the nature of this injury is kind of like that. We have learned to take one day at a time and be excited for the progress he has made and try to stay as long as it makes sense and he is improving. Ryan likes to tell people when they ask – “I’ll be home when I am done!”. Done, being the operative word…what is done?! I guess we will know it when we see it!

In other news, we had to change units at the end of May. We are still in the same building, but just a different apartment. Both my kids have moved more this year than in their entire lives! We are all getting a little tired of “stuff”, so it was a nice opportunity to go through what we have and be able to donate some and just get rid of things we don’t need any more. It was also kind of nice to be able to donate some things that Ryan just does not need anymore because of his improvements.

What Ryan is Up to Now - Like the rest of the teenagers out there, he sleeps a LOT (and probably stays up too late) and is still growing like crazy – over 6’+ and counting! In therapy, Ryan continues to work on his walking form and strength and endurance. He is using forearm crutches and is incorporating them more and more into every day activities. The other night, I took out the garbage and came back to find him standing in the hallway with his crutches ready to go to dinner. Last Saturday, he could not sleep and he decided to get up from his bed, transfer to his chair (unplug all the chargers connected to everything), get his clothes from the dresser, put them on – by the time I heard him (this was at 4 in the morning!), he was just getting ready to put his shoes on. I am not sure how he was so stealthy, but this does not bode well for me and Tom when we get home and he decides he is going to sneak out with friends!!

Ryan is happy, healthy and just the same as he has always been. Actually, he does not think he has changed much at all, but I feel differently – this year has been a grind and a test of his will. Failure is definitely part of the process, but he continues to look forward to the next thing that he can do, rather than focus on the things he can’t. He may not think he has changed, but he has. We will be home when we are “done” and are really looking forward to being in our own home, all together, and with friends and family - we miss you all!! Wishing everyone a great summer, and we will keep you all posted with any fun, new, improvements!
The Joseph Family

Photo & Video Links

Balancing – I had to edit this video so that it cuts out other patients, but he is balancing for at least 4 minutes. It looks like the therapists are helping him, but they are actually pretty hands off.
This video is one that is posted.

Stairs – Stairs are a challenge because they involve balance, strength and a lot of muscles have to activate to get where he wants to go. Going up/down stairs is relatively new.
This video is one that is posted.

6 Minute Walk Test – This is at the end of the 6 minute walk test to see how far he can go in 6 minutes – 260.1’ is his lastest record.
This video is one that is posted.

Done for the Day

Thanks for Keeping in Touch!
We wanted to share one of the cards we received from our friend, Virginia Rodriguez, “Kick Ass Mode Activated!” pictured in the photo.

Another good one from the Eide Family:

Thank you to all of you that continue to send cards, well wishes and call and text us. We appreciate it all tremendously! It is hard to describe our schedule, but I guarantee, by the end of the day, we are wiped out, so if you don’t hear back from us right away, don’t give up on us! None of us are particularly great at social media, so if you have sent a message or posted something and not heard back, we probably don’t know it is there. I (Kristin) also post to Tom’s Facebook page, but don’t have one of my own, so I try not to respond to things, just because it is Tom’s account, and it feels weird, so if you don’t hear from Tom, that might be another reason why! I have also been known to misplace “likes” and such, so to keep us all “safe”, I try to keep my interactions with Facebook minimal!
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I should have added this video too - this one is from yesterday, actually walking on the treadmill. His left leg in this video was needing a little help, but for the most part he was walking on his own for the hour of therapy.
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$210,582 of $500,000 goal

Raised by 2,395 people in 19 months
Created January 11, 2018
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