Help Orion Owens – #WiggleYourToes

For: Orion Owens
San Diego, CA
Organizer: Breton Carasso
$21,695
of $125,000 goal
17% Complete
Raised by 156 donors

The Story

#WiggleYourToes – The Path to Recovery for Orion Owens

On Thursday July 21, 2016, Orion Owens embarked on a moonlit swim with friends in Utah that changed the course of his life and destiny forever. At 22 years old, Orion is an incredibly active underwater/surf filmmaker and photographer, and his friends will show up in droves to tell you that he’s wise beyond his years, positive beyond his circumstance, and a magnet for greatness, kindness and abundance. On that Thursday night, in the moonlight, Orion dove into a freshwater lake, and in an instant, that no one will ever understand or forget, he hit his head on the sandy lake bottom in a way that burst fractured his C6 vertebrae, cracked his C5 vertebrae, and rendered him helpless under water until friends realized that he wasn’t being the playful Grom that they know and love, and instead that he was in grave danger and unconscious under water for 5-7 minutes.  Through the grace of higher powers above, Orion’s friends were able to revive him through performing extensive CPR for 10 minutes and immediately getting first responders on-site. Miraculously, within about 6 minutes of resuscitation efforts, Orion was awake, and soon after speaking full sentences with memory of his date of birth on that very beach. Miracle. Pure miracle. Tragically, his friends learned just as quickly that he was numb from the neck down almost immediately after impact under water. He was then immediately taken by medical helicopter to the nearest hospital and his parents received the phone call that no human should ever have to endure.


As Paulo Coelho says, “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

Thanks to free diving lessons that Orion has taken, he says that when he realized he was unable to move under water, he got incredibly calm and relaxed his body to the most meditative, peaceful pace possible. Sentiments like these have left those who love him dumbfounded by his wisdom and knowingness. That calm, courageous demeanor hasn’t left his aura since. In the days since this life-altering experience, Orion underwent a spine stabilizing surgery (technically called a “Corpectomy”) at Ogden Regional Medical Center, has regained movement and sensation from his chest up, and is still awaiting movement and sensation in his feet and legs.


On Thursday July 28, 2016, he is overjoyed to be checking into one of the most world-class spinal rehabilitation institutions in the country – Craig Hospital – and will continue his care and progress just outside of Denver, CO.


There are many more adventures that this loving, talented 22-year-old has in front of him.  As Orion would tell you – he’s ready to work hard, to do whatever it takes. And he’s bringing his crystals and lavender with him for continued crystal rock arm pumping!


Given the gravity of this situation and the generosity of our peers, we as Orion’s friends want to raise funds to help him, a young independent adult, to return to the active and creative life that he so passionately had lived. Some of his known and unknown expenses include:

  • Current medical expenses and therapy in Colorado
  • Optional Treatments not covered by insurance.  Ex, Craig supports alternative therapies and Orion heard of an acupuncturist that will come in to help heal his spinal cord.
  • Continued outpatient therapy upon returning home to san Diego
  • The annual required return trips to Colorado for longterm follow up of his motor and neurological health
  • Tools and mobility devices enabling Orion to return  home to the active and creative lifestyle that he has so passionately been living such as phone access, screen access, and devices to help Orion return to his love of an extensive list of outdoor sports, editing and filming which insurance may not cover. These may be short-term or ongoing needs.

This devastating accident has also changed the lives of Orion’s family and we would like to provide them with some financial support to offset the expenses they are incurring to be with Orion as his  primary advocate and support through this heartbreaking accident. Some of the known and unknown future expenses for Orion’s family include:

  • Emergency travel expenses to immediately be at Orion’s side this past week in Ogden, UT.  
  • Relocating for an estimated 3 months to be an active participant of the family piece of therapy program at Craig Hospital.
  • Potential home care assistance for Orion for their relief, as well as mobility devices enabling Orion to return home to San Diego

We would like to establish a fund for Orion #WiggleYourToes  for this will be a long journey of healing with many unknowns and outcomes in the months and years ahead.

Most immediately Orion has incurred a $7,000+ out-of pocket expense for his ground and air transportation to Craig Hospital in Colorado from Utah.

While we KNOW that our love will surround Orion EVERY step of the way, we do not know the outcomes ahead and what financial expenses Orion will personally be faced with.


If you have the ability to support our dear friend in this unthinkable time of need, or know someone who can, we want to share the most helpful ways that you can do so:

Write a check payable to: Orion Owens and mail to:

1. Orion Owens
3594 Hartzel Drive
Spring Valley, CA  91977
(100% of your contribution goes to Orion’s Wiggle Your Toes account)


2. Simply make an online donation through YOUCARING
(An average of 3% transaction fee will be taken out for processing.)

In addition to financial support and equally as valuable, Orion needs our continued collective positive, healing, energy, intentions and prayers sent his way. Not just this week, not just next, but for as long as we have the loving positivity to send his way.

Although he is facing a long road to recovery, his determination and relentless PERSONAL positivity have inspired everyone around him, from his family, to his friends, to every nurse and doctor that has the pleasure of encountering him. Even the helicopter operators returned to check on him the next day because of his sense of humor and positivity during his 911 flight. “My goal this summer was to shoot photos from a helicopter, but I wasn’t expecting it to be like this!” remarked a miraculously lucid Orion in the air that night ☺

Please watch for updates via this page and his two primary social media platforms:

With love and gratitude,

His Loving Friends

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on October 13, 2017

Posted on October 13, 2017

Orion is back in San Diego, getting back into therapy programs and his friends are putting together a fun fundraiser Keeping the Journey Alive.

Thanks for all the support to help Orion progress as he has. Check out the fun event to Keep him going! 

Read HERE for update article and event details.  

Posted on July 18, 2017

Posted on July 18, 2017

Orion and his parents have now been on Maui for 1 month for continued rehab and finding some joy in everyday life. Laura and David continue to be his primary caregivers, yet he is able to be on his own more and more. 

Life on Maui feels more balanced…clearly different, challenging and hard. There is still grieving…but much to be grateful for. There are more moments of “normal” and they see continued progress !!

It was a whirlwind week back in San Diego, unpacking, packing, seeing as many friends as possible. An Open House Style Gathering allowed as many as possible to give and receive hugs with the Owens passing through...on their way to take Orion to Body Wellness Hawaii on Maui for continued rehab. 

Orion says he really likes this new approach and can feel the difference.  When sitting on the paddle board it is clear he has more truck stability and strength. Alejandra reminds him it is like a newborn progressing from rolling, to sitting, to standing, to walking. She told him when he is tired of working out, time to work harder. 

Orion has therapy 2 hours per day Monday - Friday. The quiet facility, slow movements and mentally focused intention of the exercises is completely opposite of the busy, high energy and high tech facility at Craig Hospital. Orion liked Craig therapy, but enjoys the contrast and feels his back and core getting stronger!! Alejandra has given Orion new exercises to improve his hand function and he can feel more connections down through his hands. 

Orion likes this new approach but he and his parents feel some pieces are missing from the rehab he had at  Craig. With instructions from Craig PT, David built stall bars, a handmade version of Standing Frame beneficial for upright position good for the organs, weight bearing on the bones/muscles, and promote healthy blood pressure in upright position. They also purchased a home unit for muscle electric stimulation, stool to continue crawling motion to reinforce the movement seen in Orion's hip flexors, and other pieces that insurance has denied despite the prescriptions from Dr and PT. 

Thanks to Quincy Dein, Orion had his 1st dip on July 4th, and later a small group took Orion on a downwind float (check out Facebook We Love Orion  or the gallery here for pictures). Orion has been in the water 3x and his parents and friends are trying to get the waterman in for  his pure love of the ocean but to also incorporate water therapy. Time and logistics still being worked out. 

The warm weather can be dangerous for a person with spinal cord injury because the damaged cord can not regulate body temperature.  The trade winds on Maui have been good for Orion and the warm water is perfect temperature for his body too. 

Laura and David said, "We are not giving up. We remain optimistic in Orion’s recovery, but it will not be fast. It will require months of handwork, perseverance and all of your continued prayers, positive healing images of Orion, support and LOVE. We will remain strong and celebrate each small improvement." 

Hunter will arrive on June 18th to be with the family for the 2nd month. They all leave August 24th.  The entire family is grateful for the support both in prayers, positive vibes and financial contributions which have enabled Orion to pursue the therapy he needs to recover (this is therapy insurance will not acknowledge),  the equipment and supplies...most of which insurance is denying, AND..this all helps the entire family be able to be together, to focus on daily rehab, to be united, and be strong for the tough journey the entire family is on. 

Thanks to all and Keep It Up Orion!  Be Warrior Strong! 
Go Wiggle Your Toes

Posted on June 6, 2017

Posted on June 6, 2017

Returning Home & Continuing Rehab

We are so stoked that Orion is getting ready to come home to San Diego, and his friends in Maui are also excited to see that waterman back in Maui to continue rehab in the summer.

Orion continues to get stronger and improve, yet the progress is a bit slower these days. It can be hard but we want to cheer him on and keep him going. Orion is not giving in, nor giving up....in fact he is moving on to do more unique rehab on Maui! 

Orion and his parents will return to San Diego June 11th and depart for Maui on June 20th for 2 months of Neurokinetics Pilates with a special program for spinal cord injuries.  He has heard about this therapy since week one of his injury. This is not covered by insurance, as many therapies now ahead of him will not be.  He and his parents are very grateful to a generous family who has offered an accessible home on Maui for the 2 months he will be there continuing therapy 5 days a week. It won't be a vacation, but rehab in paradise near the ocean is a great next step for him!

Let's continue to send Orion positive vibes and encouragement to keep working hard towards recovery. Last time of few of us buddies saw him at Craig, it was awesome to see him stand...even with assistance he was up, he is improving! He is also able to initiate some steps from his hips; not always on demand but he's getting there. 

Orion and his family is thankful for all of the support, encouragement and donations to help him over the past months at Craig Hospital. Going forward there will be many more out-of-pocket expenses for therapy and medical equipment and exercise equipment that the insurance company has and is expected to deny. 

In addition to contributions through this site or directly to Orion (see main story), his San Diego friends are in the process of planning a Welcome Home and Keep Going Fundraiser targeted for September.

Keep the fight up Bro....We Love Orion

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