Jerad Bortz and his partner, Steven Skeelz, were in a terrible car accident on Sunday, February 4th. Jerad and Steven never lost consciousness, but right away, Jerad knew it was critically serious. “I can’t feel my legs”, he told Steven.
He was first treated at a local ER in the Poconos and then life-flighted to a trauma center in Allentown, PA. Jerad had sustained fractures to C6 and C7 in his neck and was paralyzed from the chest down with limited hand and arm movement/sensation. He went into surgery on Monday, February 5th to stabilize his cervical spine, with a fusion to C5, C6, and C7.
On Friday, February 9th, Jerad was transferred to the Kessler Institute for Spinal Research and Rehabilitation. His Doctor there has echoed the surgeon’s assessment that Jerad will be wheel-chair bound for life and that they hope through time and hard work, he can make some gains with his hands. His injury, severe bruising of the entire spinal cord, has been deemed “complete”, meaning his paralysis is permanent.
Our fundraising efforts are focused on getting Jerad ready for the long road ahead with the means to field some of the new challenges he’ll face, and filling in the gaps of what insurance and social services will provide:
· Medical expenses
· The right equipment/technology to support his independence
· New housing and the appropriate home modifications
· Explore cutting-edge and experimental treatments (for which insurance does not contribute)
· Options for Jerad to re-invent himself and discover his new purpose (2nd degree, grad school, new business, etc)
The cost of many of these things is shockingly high, and estimates from the Christopher Reeve Foundation put the 1st year costs of living as a quadriplegic at just under 800k with lifetime expense over 2 million.
Those who know Jerad personally know he is one of the most charitable and giving people we know. He also lived in constant gratitude, often asking “who’s luckier than us?” when amongst friends. It seems particularly unjust when such a generous soul who never took life for granted should find himself here. But true to his incredible spirit, he’s already searching for the meaning in this insane new chapter of his life. The least we can do is try to meet him where he’s at and make sure he has access to the care and opportunities he deserves.
Please share his story and take a moment to say thanks for all the blessings in your life.