Charlie Cunningham Medical/Rehab

$147,930 of $200,002 goal

Raised by 2,233 people in 37 months
Jacquie Phelan
on behalf of Jacquie Phelan
 FAIRFAX, CA

In early August, 2015, Charlie Cunningham, bicycle builder, inventor and all around amazing person, fell off his bike and sustained several serious injuries.

Charlie suffered broken bones, bruises, and trauma to his head. At the time, he didn't feel his head injury was significant. Unfortunately, seven weeks later, the head injury manifested into a subdural hematoma, a life threatening condition that resulted in emergency brain surgery.  Having been about two minutes from death or complete vegetative state,  he endured a hell period of about six months, beginning with two months in intensive care, followed by months of doctor's visits and rehabiliitation. His days of getting around by bike were over, or so we thought.

Currently, Charlie is at the "plateau" level.  He has no sense of direction, nor much vision (his brain was affected, leaving the upper half of his visual field empty, as well as the periphery). But he is walking, speaking normally, with very little aphasia, and still working on learning the alphabet. he can read a simple news headline after about five minutes of careful study of each letter. We move about Marin on a gorgeous tandem, which will soon get a motor so we can go offroad, away from traffic.

His 'genius' resides now in his efforts to recover what most of us take for granted: balance, literacy and agency, the will to do things and make things, which seems to have disappeared when the brain bleed happened. Your donations will help to offset the costs of his rehabilitation and the visits to UC Berkeley Eye Clinic, and  the weekly respite care visits.  Thank you for your generosity.

A bit about the fund: it was dreamed up by Caroline James,  a good friend of Charlie and Jacquie's since the 1987.  She's an artist, web designer and was an early Wombat. Since the end of the first year of the fund, I have taken over most of the administration. Grant Petersen of Rivendell renown, and 1,200 donors like you have helped move us along, for which we're ever grateful.

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These days have the autumn cold mornings, the clear starry nights with Orion, and the afternoons so warm that a baby rattlesnake crosses my path whilst testing out my Varley-tuned DeSalvo 29er. Just a 30 minute ride to see what a single gear is like (Charlie and I are going with Rachel Lloyd to SSWC in Bend).
No sooner than I 'd pushed off down the street, than my right thumb reflexively reaches for a shifter, since the gear (I don't even know what the gear inches are!) is too low for rolling downhill.
Aha!
I'm not on my ordinary bike.
I'm on the best prize I've ever won: a custom DeSalvo ('earned' by finishing on the oldest bike at SSWC Napa 2008, ten tiny years ago). I've made a name plate to show the name in big 60's style lettering, in case anyone snaps a picture.
How ever to thank Mike DeS. for such an incredibly generous gesture? Well, I send gratitude missives every now and then. The bike doesn't get enough mud-time, partly because I was waiting for a Type II fork (which will never come, now that C doesn't fabricate) to smooth the jounce.

We saw Free Solo three nights ago, courtesy of Larry Guevarra, one of the very first donor's to Charlies fund--he gave us our first tandem.
Larry was in town for a wedding, and we got to meet him for the first time...hopefully we'll ride with him on one of the grand fondues.

Tonight's dessert is from our gravenstein apple tree, whose giant apples come in tightly packed pairs, like an oxygen atom, or a very green derriere. They were picked, then peeled while still warm from the sun, chopped messily, and then even more messily a gluten-less mishmash of oatmeal, rice and buckwheat flours, oh yeah and almond meal, plus lots of butter. I worked that into granular form, spread onto the thick mess of apples, and realized I'd forgotten to put sugar on it.
Threw on some crunchy brown sugar from Central Milling (always cite your $pon$sor$) and some lemon juice from the Andronico's dumpster--Renu's tree doesn't have lemons til January--and then work on compost in the yard, while Osmanthus fragrans and apple crisp vie for my attention on the evening breeze.
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Lovely day..taught two eager, innocent intermediate women....My idea of a good time is: turning an innocent rider into a jaded pro*, in the course of three swift, fun filled hours with me yelling encouragement and trying not to be too bossypants...
Student Denise was on her brand new Birthday Bike, third time out, which was about 12 inches longer than her old mtn bike...with shocks...and when it became clear her machine was just ...not 'behaving'...I suggested she get on her old-shoe bike. We rode out to her place nearby, and put her onboard ol trusty ...and everything fell into place...
*OK, maybe not a Jaded Pro, but at least a woman at ease with some of her fears, and more accepting of flaws in general. I try to explain that the Time Wasted On Self-Abnegation could be so useful if that habit (the "you idiot!" habit, and the "I'm sorry" habit) could be plucked like an unwanted eyebrow hair (they often don't grow back!! NEVER PLUCK unless you want NO EYEBROWS) and all that self-loafing could be channeled into "God, am I great, or what?"
Face it. We're in the Middle of Life. Wouldn't it be great to have uh...the OPPOSITE OPINION for that wizen'd wrinkly latter half.
The fine art of not giving a fuck...just saw a book by that title, got the first couple of pages in, then the book owner arrived home and we had to blab. And I had to leave it on the coffee table, but believe me, MY how-to is going to embody some of that ethos.
I do think kids should give a fuck,er, that is CARE...about er...uh...the planet. But we, who've already trashed it, have to coast into senility knowing the damage done, and simply accept we knew no better, but now we're bicycling, and surely that causes very little Harm, in the big scheme of things, eh?
As we exited Cramarancho, a small pack of burly guys looked on, smiling broadly. I was sure that it was because they were stoked to see three bats scoot gracefully over the little concrete culvert, over the knotted roots, and onto the nice, gravelly Iron Springs road.
It occurred to me that the map at the entrance is a great meet-up spot.
Mebbe I 'll start my classes from there.
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Bob Duncan just sent me this Proof of Hoarding Newspapers (it's a 1993 Pacific Sun, the Marin free weakly (not a typo) paper. The writer was Greg Cahill, a bona-fide rock-n-roll reviewer, he did a lovely job. Should I attempt to include the text of the story (ahem), or is this the wrong 4-um for this sort of vanity?
We're having snug, long nights in the treehouse as the season clicks into gear...Much warmth coming from you, our cherished circle of friends.
I dropped the 'r' initially, but thought: is that OK, to joke about something so vital? No, it's not. But it crossed my quirky mind.
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I’m facing strange message from Gofundme: “You have no donations. You have no updates”.
This lands me in the confusion zone: I lost the ability to use Flickr and Skype because I never touched it the past three years while I was at “caregiver bootcamp”. So I can’t use them anymore, and maybe because I let 8 days go by since my last update, Gof. is irritable with me.
Nevertheless I have to report that Charlie tandem’d with me and Karen H, my friend with lots of traumatic brain injured spouse experience. We wheeled in perfect weather, round the reservoir of Nicasio counter clockwise, quiet roads through the yellow hills, and yellow leaves all over Sam Taylor’s damp forested floor on the last ten mile stretch homeward.
Tomatoes on every backyard vine.
Little traffic.
It was great.
I hope I can share this with you.
It’s the second time I’ve typed, I’m in my second hour in the desk chair, cuz Goaf threw out my first attempt (Which was much much better, of course)
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Read a Previous Update
Matthew McKibben
37 months ago

As a home builder, what can I build for you? Ramps? Let's do a build party day and get it sorted out before he's out of the ER.

+ Read More
Grant Petersen
36 months ago

Charlie is one of half-a-handful of modern bicycle geniuses and personal heroes of mine (and I am basically "anti-hero"). Everything I know about him, I love. Everything he's ever designed or made or innovated on his own personal bike, I admire and wished I was that smart. I'm so sorry to hear of this accident. Of course we all want him back on his superlight plastic saddle, held by the seat post that also holds a pump. Go, Charlie.

+ Read More
Lennard Zinn
36 months ago

This is a tragedy and a wake-up call about head injuries and getting them checked out and monitored for a long time afterward. I was just thinking about Charlie last week; I was riding on Mt. Tam since 1981 at Thanksgiving when I rode it with Charlie and a number of other friends. He is creative genius, and a great human being to boot; I hope he gets his full faculties back soon. Get better soon, Charlie, and hang in there, Jacquie!

+ Read More
Paula Mara
37 months ago
6
6

Thank you Caroline, I am very grateful to you for making it possible to help our resourceful and generous friend THE Charlie Cunningham. Best wishes to all...XOXO

+ Read More
Alan Steinbach
35 months ago
3
3

OMG! I am kinda the Cunningham FP, having provided care for Bruce, Charlie's fighter pilot and custom home builder dad, and his tiny book and social antiquarian mom Carol. As a late comer to the world of off road biking, and having been privileged to visit Charlie's shop, I just wanted to confirm the need for this kind of funding effort. For all the closed head injuries that our lifestyle generates, we have a very unsupportive neuro-rehab environment here in the US and A. Maybe the rising tide of reality about football injuries will help, but not in time for Charlie. Any contribution you can make will really make a difference in his recovery.

+ Read More
Ben Schultz
29 months ago
2
2

Jacquie, while I absolutely love his thoughts on greeting age, something many of us are currently doing, my favorite thing is when he talks about the "milky silver finish". This finish is what I always thought was SO beautiful about Campy (you should excuse the expression!) equipment. As far as your personal struggle with responsibility, most of us have been there...we travel a path that is comfortable for us, where we can make the most of our abilities, and then when the situation changes, radically in your case, the flexibility we all develop allows us to change directions. You can do it. You have your friends in your area, and hundreds outside of that. We are all breaking as much wind for you both as is possible. Actually, that's maybe not the best choice of words...

+ Read More
Lisa Sebastian
32 months ago
2
2

I have had friends use this site to coordinate care/meals, etc: http://lotsahelpinghands.com. Wishing continual recovery for Charlie and some sleep for Jacquie. ♥

+ Read More
Mary James
33 months ago
2
2

Hi Jacquie, I love reading about Charlie's progress. Each small step being made gets him that much closer his goal! Keep the faith : )

+ Read More
Victor R. Hanson
36 months ago
2
2

Grant Cellini unicantor - just like Cinelli Bars in the early eighties because they had greater wall thickness to bend the bars. Here is to a speedy recovery Charlie - we want to see you on trails soon!

+ Read More
Pete Simpson
36 months ago
2
2

Great news Caroline! Thank you for the updates. Get well Charlie!!

+ Read More
Rob Wickens
37 months ago
2
2

Great info https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Cunningham I had seen his bike at the hall of fame in Fairfax. Speedy recovery Charlie!

+ Read More
Simon Sollberger
15 months ago
1
1

i can NOT wait to see that footage!!! I think of charlie every time i ride up Tam - and the other day i saw a gentleman with a cunningham racer - WALKING!! - i should have taken it away from him ; ) - still my holy grail of bikes - until then my 88 merlin will have to do - sending you love & strength

+ Read More
Mariann Jelinek
27 months ago
1
1

Yep. And "death-grip somersault " can be a lovely metaphor for how stuck we get in our own heads and fears, sometimes. Make that time to meditate, soak in a tub, walk in the woods, breathe, even write for 15 minutes or an hour: you've got to take care of YOU to be able to carry on. Peace and strength, Jacquie.

+ Read More
Richard Dahlgren
28 months ago
1
1

Don't look back, Jacquie! Look forward - there are still a lot of good things, and will be more to come! Think about the progress Charlie has made to date.

+ Read More
Bevin Barber-Campbell
30 months ago
1
1

Ah, that photo brings back great old memories. Mountain biking would be so much less without the contributions from both of you!

+ Read More
Ben Schultz
30 months ago
1
1

From the Rock-Shox shoot! Fantastic style and attitude!

+ Read More
Maryann Pearson
30 months ago
1
1

Jacquie this post makes me smile. Seems your spirits are lifting! Walking Bon Tempe and thinking of mud baths - all good. Wishing you and Charlie more lake walks and soft landings.

+ Read More
George McLaird
31 months ago
1
1

Thanks for this update. I'm no expert but I have heard wonderful things about crawling to help the brain to function better. But I've also heard it doesn't help. So, give it a try and see for yourself. My a 1000 unexpected blessings come your way

+ Read More
Lisa Sebastian
32 months ago
1
1

The link I posted earlier about MCIL was a typo when it was originally posted. The person meant Marin Center for Inpendent Living, not Memphis. I thought that was confusing! Here is the correct link: http://www.marincil.org/

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Lisa Sebastian
32 months ago
1
1

I shared the link to Deer Park's Nextdoor.com community to let people know what's going on in case they want to contribute/help. Some suggestions came back that you may already have heard of: Marin Villages: http://www.marinvillages.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=134956 Brain Injury Network: http://www.binba.org Memphis Center for Independent Living (not sure what their national outreach is, but they were recommended): https://sites.google.com/site/mcilaction/

+ Read More

$147,930 of $200,002 goal

Raised by 2,233 people in 37 months
Created October 5, 2015
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$50
Mario Lamorte
6 hours ago

I send love and support.

$25
Anonymous
14 hours ago
PR
$25
Peter Repetti
3 days ago

See y’all in Bend!

AG
$100
Andy Grayson
3 days ago

I LOVE reading your posts. Please keep them coming. It was great seeing you and Charlie at the museum!

$5
Anonymous
6 days ago
DW
$25
David Worth
15 days ago

Its been too long since I last gave. I truly enjoy hearing your adventures. All the best to you two.

$100
Gregg Bagni
15 days ago

i donated because that's a great shot of you.... :: ))

$25
Samuel Reddick
17 days ago

Keep on chooglin'.

Matthew McKibben
37 months ago

As a home builder, what can I build for you? Ramps? Let's do a build party day and get it sorted out before he's out of the ER.

+ Read More
Grant Petersen
36 months ago

Charlie is one of half-a-handful of modern bicycle geniuses and personal heroes of mine (and I am basically "anti-hero"). Everything I know about him, I love. Everything he's ever designed or made or innovated on his own personal bike, I admire and wished I was that smart. I'm so sorry to hear of this accident. Of course we all want him back on his superlight plastic saddle, held by the seat post that also holds a pump. Go, Charlie.

+ Read More
Lennard Zinn
36 months ago

This is a tragedy and a wake-up call about head injuries and getting them checked out and monitored for a long time afterward. I was just thinking about Charlie last week; I was riding on Mt. Tam since 1981 at Thanksgiving when I rode it with Charlie and a number of other friends. He is creative genius, and a great human being to boot; I hope he gets his full faculties back soon. Get better soon, Charlie, and hang in there, Jacquie!

+ Read More
Paula Mara
37 months ago
6
6

Thank you Caroline, I am very grateful to you for making it possible to help our resourceful and generous friend THE Charlie Cunningham. Best wishes to all...XOXO

+ Read More
Alan Steinbach
35 months ago
3
3

OMG! I am kinda the Cunningham FP, having provided care for Bruce, Charlie's fighter pilot and custom home builder dad, and his tiny book and social antiquarian mom Carol. As a late comer to the world of off road biking, and having been privileged to visit Charlie's shop, I just wanted to confirm the need for this kind of funding effort. For all the closed head injuries that our lifestyle generates, we have a very unsupportive neuro-rehab environment here in the US and A. Maybe the rising tide of reality about football injuries will help, but not in time for Charlie. Any contribution you can make will really make a difference in his recovery.

+ Read More
Ben Schultz
29 months ago
2
2

Jacquie, while I absolutely love his thoughts on greeting age, something many of us are currently doing, my favorite thing is when he talks about the "milky silver finish". This finish is what I always thought was SO beautiful about Campy (you should excuse the expression!) equipment. As far as your personal struggle with responsibility, most of us have been there...we travel a path that is comfortable for us, where we can make the most of our abilities, and then when the situation changes, radically in your case, the flexibility we all develop allows us to change directions. You can do it. You have your friends in your area, and hundreds outside of that. We are all breaking as much wind for you both as is possible. Actually, that's maybe not the best choice of words...

+ Read More
Lisa Sebastian
32 months ago
2
2

I have had friends use this site to coordinate care/meals, etc: http://lotsahelpinghands.com. Wishing continual recovery for Charlie and some sleep for Jacquie. ♥

+ Read More
Mary James
33 months ago
2
2

Hi Jacquie, I love reading about Charlie's progress. Each small step being made gets him that much closer his goal! Keep the faith : )

+ Read More
Victor R. Hanson
36 months ago
2
2

Grant Cellini unicantor - just like Cinelli Bars in the early eighties because they had greater wall thickness to bend the bars. Here is to a speedy recovery Charlie - we want to see you on trails soon!

+ Read More
Pete Simpson
36 months ago
2
2

Great news Caroline! Thank you for the updates. Get well Charlie!!

+ Read More
Rob Wickens
37 months ago
2
2

Great info https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Cunningham I had seen his bike at the hall of fame in Fairfax. Speedy recovery Charlie!

+ Read More
Simon Sollberger
15 months ago
1
1

i can NOT wait to see that footage!!! I think of charlie every time i ride up Tam - and the other day i saw a gentleman with a cunningham racer - WALKING!! - i should have taken it away from him ; ) - still my holy grail of bikes - until then my 88 merlin will have to do - sending you love & strength

+ Read More
Mariann Jelinek
27 months ago
1
1

Yep. And "death-grip somersault " can be a lovely metaphor for how stuck we get in our own heads and fears, sometimes. Make that time to meditate, soak in a tub, walk in the woods, breathe, even write for 15 minutes or an hour: you've got to take care of YOU to be able to carry on. Peace and strength, Jacquie.

+ Read More
Richard Dahlgren
28 months ago
1
1

Don't look back, Jacquie! Look forward - there are still a lot of good things, and will be more to come! Think about the progress Charlie has made to date.

+ Read More
Bevin Barber-Campbell
30 months ago
1
1

Ah, that photo brings back great old memories. Mountain biking would be so much less without the contributions from both of you!

+ Read More
Ben Schultz
30 months ago
1
1

From the Rock-Shox shoot! Fantastic style and attitude!

+ Read More
Maryann Pearson
30 months ago
1
1

Jacquie this post makes me smile. Seems your spirits are lifting! Walking Bon Tempe and thinking of mud baths - all good. Wishing you and Charlie more lake walks and soft landings.

+ Read More
George McLaird
31 months ago
1
1

Thanks for this update. I'm no expert but I have heard wonderful things about crawling to help the brain to function better. But I've also heard it doesn't help. So, give it a try and see for yourself. My a 1000 unexpected blessings come your way

+ Read More
Lisa Sebastian
32 months ago
1
1

The link I posted earlier about MCIL was a typo when it was originally posted. The person meant Marin Center for Inpendent Living, not Memphis. I thought that was confusing! Here is the correct link: http://www.marincil.org/

+ Read More
Lisa Sebastian
32 months ago
1
1

I shared the link to Deer Park's Nextdoor.com community to let people know what's going on in case they want to contribute/help. Some suggestions came back that you may already have heard of: Marin Villages: http://www.marinvillages.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=134956 Brain Injury Network: http://www.binba.org Memphis Center for Independent Living (not sure what their national outreach is, but they were recommended): https://sites.google.com/site/mcilaction/

+ Read More
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