'Help Luke Break Free From His Traumatic Brain Injury'

For: Luke Simpson and Family
Organizer: Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)
of $300,000 goal
100% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

Luke Simpson is pretty awesome.

A strong, smart, energetic, generous, and witty guy who loves music, laughter, and new experiences. Loving father of two, husband, son, brother, uncle, friend. Enthusiastic biker, skier, hiker, snowmachiner, surfer, climber. An incredibly hard worker, bread-winner and generous soul. The kind of guy who is easy to like and is loved by many.

But something pretty awful happened to him.

On November 4, 2013, Luke was in a serious mountain biking accident at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska. Due to the extraordinary efforts of his friends, Luke’s life was saved. Unfortunately, he sustained significant head injuries that led to a massive stroke in his brain stem. The stroke cut off neural connections between his brain and body and left him completely immobilized and without the ability to hear or speak.  For now, Luke communicates by reading messages and responding with blinks or up and down eye gazes. He is doing well cognitively and has regained some motor function since beginning therapy, but it is still unknown how fully he might recover.

YOU can help in a BIG way.

To give him the best possible chance at healing, Luke needs intensive rehabilitation in a hospital specializing in traumatic brain injuries. To his family's relief, he was approved for admission to Craig Hospital in Denver--an excellent facility that is widely acclaimed for its specialized treatment of TBI patients, with high success rates.

Luke needs more time at this facility than his insurance company will pay for. The hospital requires a three-month committment, and the insurance company will only pay for one month. This means the Simpson family must pay for the remaining two months out-of-pocket--at a cost of $180,000! Luke’s friends are working to raise these funds, plus other significant out-of-pocket costs associated with his injury and care (such as adaptive equipment, a wheelchair accessible van, and necessary home renovations for accessibility). 

Based on information we have gathered from medical experts and Luke's insurance company, we believe that in order to give Luke the very best chance at recovery and quality of life, we need to raise a great deal more than our initial goal of $75,000. We've set our new goal at $300,000. This is a steep number, but we know that if we apply the same dogged determination we have always admired in Luke, we will get there. Luke has put a lot of good out into the world, and he has a lot of good coming to him in return. 

If you have already given to Luke's medical fund, THANK YOU. If you have not yet had a chance, we appreciate any amount you are able to donate. Every little bit helps us get closer to our goal. Please help us spread the word to people who would like to support Luke and his family.

- Team Luke Simpson (Andrew Steiner, Ann Loyd, Cindy Bierne, Ellen Campfield Nelson, Josh DeLong, Regan Brooks, Sarah Monkton, Tim Alderson, and all the other friends and family who've pitched in)

Following is the medical account information for those who prefer to wire funds or send a check. We will include your donation information on this site along with the people who donated online, unless you indicate that you wish to make an anonymous donation or hide the donation amount. If mailing checks please include all of the account information to ensure that it will be deposited correctly. Thank you!

POB 196613
Anchorage, AK 99519

Name: Kristin Simpson
Acct#:  1100018061196

(To wire, routing no. is 325272021)

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on November 17, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

Hello everyone,

As many of you know, Luke, Kris and the family are finally back in Alaska for good. Hooray!

During his time in California Luke continued his intensive therapy and made some more progress. Kris says he is balancing in a sitting position for a little longer, and his head and trunk control seem to have improved a bit. He is still working on voicing "ha" and "mm", he is doing pretty well with the "ha"s. He is also moving his arms a bit more. His left shoulder and arm are getting stronger, he has a little bit larger range, and can lift his elbow off the tray when his fingers are hooked over the edge. He also can pull his right arm off the wheelchair tray by sliding his elbow backward if he wants to.

Luke drove a power wheelchair in therapy in California. Kris sent a video of it and it was pretty cool to see.  He uses two switches- one on his thumb to start and stop, and one on back of head to turn. Insurance has not approved the new equipment yet, so Kris is hoping they can order the equipment and complete the modifications in Anchorage.

Progress has been made on the house, too. In September the elevator foundation and walls were done. There have been some issues with finishing the elevator but hopefully it will all be done soon. The garage foundation was dug this fall and now the garage is close to completion. The bathroom has also been framed. Kris sends out a special thank you to everyone who has helped with the house. What a huge support you have been.

Luke's new email address is teamdole@gmail.com. Feel free to email him, and expect very short answers back, if any. He doesn't always spend a lot of time on the Tobii (especially when he's into football), and "typing" his responses can be a challenge for him depending on how his eyesight is doing. But e-mails from friends and family are greatly appreciated nevertheless.

Now that Luke is home, he will begin outpatient therapy in Anchorage. He has a couple of appointments this week to get him set up for that. We are looking forward to seeing Luke continue his progress here in Alaska.

We are so happy to have the Simpsons home in Alaska and are look forward to spending lots of time with them....Last night was the first of what will be many regular gatherings. Kris and our girlfriends gathered at my house for wine and fireside conversation, while Luke and the guys hung out at Jon's for...whiskey. I wasn't there but I'm guessing it was less civilized than our evening.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support of the Simpson family. If you're in Alaska, please check out the planner and sign up to visit Luke whenever you can. One thing to note--if you are seeing sign-up times going from 1pm-11pm, then you have your settings set for the wrong time zone.
Sign-up times are from 10am-8pm. Just open up one of the tasks and change the setting to "Alaska time" and you will be all fixed up.

Oh--and check out the new photos. There is one of Will and Kate on the first day of school and a couple of Luke and his buddies on a hike in the Chugach early this fall.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy season.

- Sarah

Posted on August 24, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

Hi all, 

Luke, Kris, and the kids are back in Alaska for the time being and it has been wonderful to see them all. Will has started school, and both he and Kate have picked right up with their old friends. I think it has been good for them to be back home. 

It has also been good for us to see the Simpson family again. It was wonderful to have them at a gathering of friends last night. The kids ran around as usual, having dance-offs and water balloon fights. The grown-ups took turns chatting with Luke, making sure he has a view of the kids and even taking him out to sit by the fire for a bit. 

There have been big improvements in communication since Luke left Alaska. Then, communication was very difficult because we had to interpret his eye movements as we moved our fingers along the letter board. This took a lot of concentration, requiring us to watch the letter board and his eye movements at the same time. It was pretty easy to make mistakes and we wound up with some wacky spellings and sentences. But now Luke has a buzzer that makes communicating with him so much easier and faster (We also have an iPad to type messages on, rather than relying on our bad handwriting on a dry erase board). As we point to letters on the letter board, he uses his fingers to press on a buzzer when he wants to select a letter. Once you get used to this system, communication can move along relatively quickly. He can also buzz once for yes, and two for no, and lots of buzzing means he has something to say. Unsurprisingly, much of the time he wants to joke around. When we helpfully asked him if he needed anything, he replied, "beer." Some of the other jokes he made are not appropriate for a general audience. You will just have to visit him yourself to enjoy his salty sense of humor. :)

In other news, Luke has a ton of new (little) movements. He can move his fingers on his right hand in a grasping motion, both legs a little, and left arm has additional directions of movement. Luke is getting more head and trunk control-- he is able to keep his head up (most of the time) while therapists help him walk or stand, and he can pull himself forward folding torso toward legs in a sitting position, also a little side to side. 

Luke has nerve pain in his left arm and both feet now. Hopefully this means the nerves are reconnecting and will eventually lead to additional deliberate movement. He is also regaining some sensation in his left arm and hand.

Kris has been hearing more of Luke's voice lately, and he has been working with speech therapists on voicing "ha". He can voice "ha" sometimes on his own, but not every time. The Tobii is reasonably set up, and Luke has been starting to email a little. He really wants and needs interaction with the outside world so if you have time, please send him a note--teamdole@gmail.com. This is his personal email and he is set up to check it and respond to it himself. The Tobii system still does some funny things with capitalization and punctuation, so if you send him an email and his reply looks weird, no worries. They just haven't had time to sort all that out yet.

Luke and Kris are going back to California in about a week to finish up Luke's intensive therapy at Casa Colina. The kids will stay in school here in Alaska, and their parents will return once Luke is ready to move back here permanently. It should be just a few weeks. Meanwhile, the house will be completed to make it easier for him to live at home. They have the building permit for the house, and hopefully it will be well underway soon. 

Thanks to everyone for your continued support of Luke and his family.  

- Sarah

Posted on August 24, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)
July 29, 2014

Here is Kris' latest update.  Hopefully Luke will get approved for more days in the intensive therapy program in California  but it it will be wonderful to welcome the Simpson family home!

~ Ann

Hi all,

Both of Luke's arms are moving a bit more, although the left more than the right. The left is strong enough to slide across his tray toward his body, and the right needs to be positioned to move a little- see photo below; Luke's therapist is helping him write his name. Luke's been working on sitting balance, and PR is now up to 2 minutes.

Tobii is here, and I am working on setting it up for him. Still don't have the positioning system that attaches it to his chair though.

House Ear Clinic tuned Luke's cochlear implant, and it seems the nerve fatigue is improving somewhat. Their doctor recommended waiting a year or two before doing the second ear, as the dr thought we did the best one first.

Our garage is gone! Hoping to put it all back together soon. Thank you to everyone who is helping!

We have plane tickets to come home... August 17.Luke and I really want to be home for the kids' first days of school. Our plan is to see if our insurance company continues to pay for intensive therapy here, and if so, Luke and I plan to return to CA Labor Day weekend. Kids will stay in AK with my parents for school. We are all looking forward to coming home, and I think it will help Luke to see friends.

Thanks everyone & see you soon! 

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)


Hi all, sorry if anyone is confused, just realized that I didn't post earlier about the Simpson family's move to California.

Bottom line was that Luke's insurance company refused to approve his transfer to the Omaha facility.  Kris decided it was best to head to California where her parents and sister live (they live right next door to each other).  Although initially this was a HUGE disappointment for them, and especially Luke, the move to California has proven to be the best thing for everyone!

Luke is enrolled in a fabulous high-quality rehab center, Kris has the support of her family, a part time nurse to help them, and the kids have their cousins and a pool to play in!

The hope is that Luke can continue to get therapy there for as long as insurance will approve it. 
Although Kris would like to get the kids enrolled in school for the beginning of the year, much is still in flux and unknown at this time.

I will do a better job of keeping everyone up to date (it's been a busy summer). :)

~ Ann

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

Here is Kris' most recent update from California.  Sounds like it ended up being a great move for everyone and especially Luke.  At this point Kris hopes that Luke will get approval from the insurance company to extend his intensive therapy program. Plans are still forming as to when the family will ultimately return to Alaska. Luke is in a great place for recovery right now and that is certainly the priority. We will keep you posted. Also posting a couple of photos from a pool session with Luke!


Kris' Update:

I finally feel like we are setting in in California. I've found a nursing student to help Luke several mornings a week, we've gotten a standing frame (exercise equipment) passed on from friends of friends in Sacramento (Thank You!), and the insurance company has approved the Tobii & it has arrived! Plans for our house are done, elevator has been ordered, and hopefully things will start happening at our house soon (waiting for city to approve plans).

More of Luke's muscles are starting to wake up. I guess its normal to have periods when muscles wake up alternating with plateaus when the brain is reorganizing and getting ready for the next waking up phase. Luke's left arm is moving (he can pull it in towards his body and squeeze hand), and the left leg is getting a little of that movement we initially saw in Anchorage but haven't seen in several months.

Our first couple of weeks here Luke did outpatient therapy at Casa Colina, but we got him into Casa Colina's outpatient intensive therapy program. Yay!! Insurance has initially agreed to pay for 20 days of therapy. Luke started 2 weeks ago and it is fantastic. Its a 9-3 program, and I don't need to go with him. He has 5 hours of therapy M-F; speech, OT, PT, neuropsychology, and stretching with a small team of therapists & techs so everyone can get to know him. This is definitely an A team therapy team, and I love how they have it organized- every afternoon after therapy is over, the therapists work together and set the schedule for the following day. This gives them tons of flexibility, and Luke could have two OT sessions in a day or whatever. They decide they want to try something new with him and its easy to arrange it quickly. Some of his therapists have worked with a locked in patient or two previously, and have seen improvements. The therapists seem excited to work with Luke and expect him to improve. We are very happy he is here.

Luke had a tuning appointment for his cochlear implant, and they found three more (7 total) electrodes that are connecting to his brain. He can hear sounds (he heard the fireworks last night), but can't discern speech. The primary problem appears to be what they call nerve fatigue... He hears a sound, then it gets quieter and quieter until he can't hear it anymore. I guess this is pretty rare, not sure what we can do about it. Luke has an appointment at House Ear Clinic in LA in a couple of weeks for another tuning and an appointment with one of their doctors to talk about the right ear. House Ear Clinic is supposed to be one of the best. Hope they can help.

Luke is still lonely, and would love visitors! We are at 5830 Emerald St. Alta Loma‎ CA‎ 91701, near the Ontairo airport outside of LA. I think his spirits are improving somewhat now that he's busier with the intensive therapy, he's starting to get more movement, and the Tour de France. We got Luke in the pool yesterday, and he enjoyed it (I think).

Thanks everyone!


~ Ann

Posted on June 9, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

Hi everyone! 

This is just an reminder that the silent auction benefit for Lukeis Saturday, June 14 at the Viking Downtown Spokane from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. 

Allan & Co.have added some fantastic items since my last post. Up for bid will be two weeks at Wapato Point in Lake Chelan, Washington--one week inOctober during theWine Festival, and for skiers there will be a week in February, close to Mission Ridge. Along with Seahawks Tickets they are also offeringtwo pairs of Gonzaga mens tickets. 

There aremany other items--too many to list--but something for everyone! So save the date, bring a date, and bid on good stuff for Lukey!

- Sarah

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

Hi all, 
Here's the latest update from Colorado--
Luke had cochlear implant surgery on his left ear yesterday, and is doing well. Cochlear implant surgery involves making a small hole in the bone behind the ear, and putting an array of wires into the cochlea. Wires go to a small magnet behind the ear. A small microphone and computer is worn behind the ear and plugged into the magnetic connection. The computer takes sound from the microphone, digitizes it, feeds it into the cochlea, and gets the sound into the nerve artificially. Such cool technology! But we won't know whether it will work for Luke until two weeks after the surgery, when the device is turned on. Our fingers are crossed--obviously it would mean so much to Luke to have his hearing back. 
Luke and family will drive to Omaha on Sunday and check into QLI on Monday. Take a look at the cool new van in the photos--this is a stylish A-Team ride. It's not what I was picturing at all, but I should have known Luke would end up with the biggest, coolest van around. 

Luke had Botox a couple weeks ago on his jaw and one side of his neck. Right now he can move his jaw just a tiny bit, and his head still twists and turns to the left. The treatment has loosened up Luke's neck and jaw little, but so far no miracles. They expect to see the full effect of treatment in another week or so. 
Luke's thumb movement is getting much stronger, and he is able to use a buzzer to select letters on the letter board, to say yes (one buzz), no (two buzzes), and to get Kris's attention. Kris says he thinks the buzzer is funny and he often laughs when he uses it. I get a kick out of picturing this scene, and am looking forward to when he gets back and can start buzzing his friends. 

They also connected Luke's thumb switch to the Tobii to speed up selection on the eye gaze computer. Now, he uses eye gaze to point to what he wants, and then selects it by clicking his switch. Kris says his typing is so much faster, and he is making fewer mistakes too.All good news for a guy who likes to chat. 
Some other good news--Luke has also started moving his little finger on the right hand, and the movement is visible now. He also says he can move the rest of his fingers on the right hand--and sometimes Kris thinks she can feel them move--but movement isn't really visible yet. Hopefully this motor control will continue to spread!

Luke has been sick again lately, and they haven't figured out why. Still working on it. He's making great progress though, and is gearing up to start the next phase of his recovery. 

- Sarah

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

I just got word from Allan that they are planning another fundraiser for Luke!  This one sounds like fun. 

For those of you in the Spokane area, mark your calendars for a silent auction on June 14th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Viking Downtown Spokane.  Here are just a few of the great items that will be up for bid: Seahawk tickets, Mariners tickets, Mens Gonzaga tickets, and dinner for four at one of Seattle's best restaurants. 

Thanks everyone, for your continued support!

- Sarah

Posted on May 5, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

*** Polly, Scott & Cooper just sent this update from Denver- LOVE IT!***

Hey all,

We had the pleasure of being in Denver to celebrate Luke's birthday week! Today Bob and Kate hosted a mini BBQ w us, Pete, kiddos. 

It was awesome using the iPad to communicate w Luke. Of course, when it was his turn to speak he told me he'd had a dream that Scott owned a strip club. ;-)

Luke is really strong and looks great! He made a lot of jokes and talked to all of us nonstop for three hours. Kris is amazing and it's so great to see them all.

Here's a fun pic of the kids singing him happy birthday.



Posted on May 5, 2014 by Team Luke Simpson (Andrew, Ann, Cindy, Ellen, Josh, Regan, Sarah, Tim, and others)

Hi all,

Sorry to keep you all waiting again for more news.  

A lot has happened over the last few weeks.  Kris sounded very optimistic about strides that Luke is making physically and she and Luke and the kids are getting excited to come home.  Kris said they will most likely move to the transitionary therapy facility, QLI in Omaha Nebraska, in late May (May 20th) with the hope to be back up in Alaska in late August.  Kris met with a representative of the facility and was very pleased with what Luke would get in this next phase of his healing and therapy. In particular, she liked that Luke would have OT, PT, and speech every day, and that they have people available who can help him with additional exercises and therapy homework outside of scheduled therapy times. Although she was hoping to have Luke set up on the Tobii before they left Craig, that will be unlikely.  The process of receiving his own device is turning out to be a lengthy one.  On the upside, QLI has many Tobii systems and will continue to work with Luke on developing his eye gaze.  This facility will have more time to focus on the Tobii with Luke which is a great thing.

Luke has made some great strides in regards to his physical strength.   Kris said that he has gained both core and neck strength, and it's showing. Laying on stomach in plank position propped up with a wedge, Luke can lift his head up and lower it, using neck and core muscles. Sitting in chair with forearms on knees or on a tray, he can lift himself back up to sitting (although a little wobbly). He is starting to turn his head side to side and can tap a switch with the side of his head. He is asking to do additional therapy at home with Kris' help, like reps sitting himself upright in the chair.

Over the last week, Luke has continued to build upon this improvement and is focused on developing his strength.  Some days he can do twenty strong reps pulling himself up from leaned over position to sitting, some days he struggles with five.  The staff thinks the variability is likely due to fatigue. He is also working on exercising his core on walks, and enjoying being outside in nice weather. Kris said that she is also seeing more swallowing, and more muscle movement in face, lips, neck, and throat when he swallows and attempts to swallow. Luke has started  to get some control over his jaw and can now move his jaw maybe a millimeter.  He cannot get it open yet, but Kris can see more of his lower teeth.

And the big news:  Luke can move his right thumb! Just a little bit, but he can wiggle it once, twice, three times, etc. Kris hopes they can get a switch set up next week that Luke can use to get her attention and hopefully to communicate yes/no.  They also hope it will help with the Tobii to speed up his typing. Luke has the cold tingly nerve pain in his left arm from elbow down, in his right fingers and thumb, and left leg from knee down. This type of pain is often associated with nerves reconnecting- I know that we all hope that this will be the case for Luke.

Kris and the Craig staff have created a chair mount for the iPad so they are able to type to Luke now.  Using this method they have found that they can get information to Luke faster and reduce errors when he spells back to them.  Kris likes the idea of having both the Tobii and an iPad  mounted to his chair eventually- one for people to type to him, and one for him to communicate back.

The 4wd on the new van has been completed and the wheelchair lift will go on next week.  Kris and her dad are learning car transfers- how to get Luke in and out of the passenger seat of a regular car. Luke wasn't too impressed by their first attempt, although they thought they did a pretty good job :-)
Luke later told Kris that learning car transfers was unnecessary because he's progressing so fast. Gotta love his positive attitude!!

Kris sends out a big thank you to everyone who has helped or is helping with their big house project!! The garage was emptied and the house readied for the garage tear down and elevator install.  The big hope is that the work gets started soon so that the elevator is in and ready for their return in August.

Kris sent along some great photos so we all could see some of Luke's progress.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attach the video she sent of Luke moving his thumb but it was pretty amazing... I will see if i can figure something out.

Last but not least, Luke's birthday is this week, (Wednesday). I bet he would love some short birthday messages that he can read on the iPad.  

~ Ann

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