Imagine having your life changed suddenly by a freak accident. On October 4, 2014, Kevin Schallert was running on a southern California beach when he fell and sustained a cervical spinal cord injury. Over the next few weeks, Kevin struggled for his life, fighting off pneumonia, on a roller coaster for his life. By October 9th some things were looking up, his fever was down and he was able to breathe on his own, through his tracheotomy tube. Then, the night of the 10th proved so difficult that he was back on a ventilator and up all night. On the 11th, though he couldn’t talk, he spelled out a message with his hand on his pillow, asking his father to play the guitar. Larry gladly obliged, and the ICU enjoyed some live music that day. Kevin continued to have many bad spells punctuated by some improvement throughout October. On October 24, the doctors allowed him to speak, with a speaking box, for 30 minutes, 4 times a day. His mother, Susie, had been by his side nearly nonstop since they had arrived at the ICU, and the first thing he said with his “new” voice was that he wanted her and his dad to go on a date and that he was paying for their night out. He had recommendations from the ICU staff for where to eat and what to order, and he insisted they try to have a good night. By the end of the month, he was able to have visitors, and his Grammy came to the ICU to visit. On the 27th, he had his first trip out of his room, in a wheelchair around his floor. By the 29th, he ate an entire meal of real food.
With this progress, he was moved out of the ICU, and he planned a small Halloween party. He had a pumpkin filled with candy for the nurses and his visitors to enjoy, and he hoped to have costumes and many friends over. However, just as he seemed better, he had a tough night, and had to return to the ICU for more treatment on his lungs. Even so, disappointed as he was about the cancelled Halloween party, he still kept his spirits high, ordered pizza for all of the ICU staff and dressed up as a Viking to celebrate the occasion.
Throughout this time and over the next months, a long-time family friend, Dorothy, kept the extended family updated on Kevin’s progress, encouraging visitors when he seemed stronger and staying with Kevin herself to give relief to the family when they needed more sleep. His brother Eric, new sister-in-law Kristin, and sister Janae, his grandparents Sherry and Jack, his Grammy, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins all stayed close, ready to help his mom and dad.
Kevin slowly improved over the next two weeks, and on November 18th he was moved to a rehab clinic where he began intense bouts of physical therapy. At one of his first sessions, Kevin and the team had great news: he could consistently move his left leg! Not by much, but he was doing it! That was such a huge step! He continued to gain some function in his arms and his legs, so that now he can use his left hand very well, can move two fingers on his right, and he can move both arms well. By the middle of December, he had trained well enough to be able to transfer himself from the bed to his wheelchair. When he could make trips out of the rehabilitation clinic, Janae his sister put together a funding campaign to raise money to buy a used van for these trips. He made it to his Grammy’s house for Christmas dinner and to a friend’s restaurant opening event. By January, the nurses had removed his tracheotomy tube completely, with no more fear of emergency lung issues at the moment. He is now able to eat what he wants and breathe uninhibited.
On January 23, Kevin took his first step in almost 4 months. He then took more steps by holding parallel rails and stepping with his left foot then his right. He needs some assistance with his right leg, but he can move it slightly, and he can hold himself up! He posted his accomplishment on Facebook saying, “Today is a blessed day–I took a step for the first time in 4 months (then 23 more). Do the Lakers need a new 12th man?” Now look at him go! On February 7th, he was walking with a walker, still with some help for his right leg, still an inspiration to everyone who knows him. Of course he is listening to “We are the Champions.”
Rebecca and Tim have decided to walk across the USA, from San Francisco to New York to raise money for Kevin’s recovery. Beginning in April 2015, they will walk across the Golden Gate bridge to start their journey. They will need about $4000 to pay for supplies, insurance, and food during their walk. Half of the money raised will go to Rebecca and Tim while the other half will go directly to Kevin until $8000 total is raised, after that, 100% of all donations will go to Kevin’s recovery. Beyond medical bills, he will need money to maintain his van so he can have the freedom to go anywhere he wants, to remodel his grandparents’ house to make it accessible, to buy a hospital bed so he can live more independently, and many more costs associated with the first few years of living with a spinal cord injury.
People who donate to this cause will receive postcards from towns across the country with updates from the traveling duo. We have decided to have donations go directly to a paypal account so there are no overheads. If you use a website like donationto, indigogo, or gofundme they charge a fee, usually 4-10% of the donated amount + credit card processing fees for donors, but with paypal direct, there will be a 3% fee for us if you use your bank account with paypal, and a small 2.9% charge for you added if you use your credit card. This will help us get more money to Kevin directly.
If you need a suggestion of how much to donate, it would be great to donate in one of the following denominations:
A penny a mile = $33
A nickel a mile = $165
A dime a mile = $330
A quarter a mile = $825
Donate here via Paypal