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Welcome to the Team Reeve® Donation Page of
Robert Ward

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On June 9th 2012 my life changed forever! It was a beautiful day and I was up on the land in West Virginia just doing odds/ ends and chores in preparation for the summer weekend trips. We were going to be building a cabin, and I was looking forward to the overall enjoyment up just being in the mountains on my land. It was Saturday around 3 o’clock and I was dog tired since I had been working since 6 AM that morning. So I decided to call it a day. I jumped on the ATV and me and the dogs went up to what has become known as “Binals’ Rock”. Here I sat for about 45 minutes listening to my books and just playing with the dogs. I then decided I needed to do one more piece of work so I jumped up on the ATV and went to the top of the mountains to complete the chore. Once completing this chore I started heading back down the mountain on the ATV. While riding on the trail, my front hit a rock on the edge of the trail which collapsed out from under my front wheel. This caused the ATV to start heading down, I tried to correct the fall but quickly realized this was not possible. So I then jumped off the ATV, but while jumping off the steering wheel came about and hit me in the back of the neck. I saw sparks of light and felt myself tumbling down the mountain. When I landed, I landed in between two rocks and in a ditch and I quickly realized I could not move any of my limbs except to shake my left foot and my left hand. Being the ever optimist I assumed I’d only pinched a nerve in my neck but I knew I had gotten myself into a pickle. As I laid there, an amazing thing happened. My two dogs Maximus and Indigo went into the woods, found some old plastic and shards of cloth and pulled that over top of me and covered me with dirt and leaves. Now I wasn’t sure what was going on and even thought they may think I was dead. But I soon realized that they were simply protecting me when they both finished their activity and laid down, one on each side of me in a protective posture. And there I laid with my two dogs for 21 hours never sleeping and moving my left hand and foot which lovingly became known as “mountain aerobics”. The only time the dogs ever really left my side was around (what I assume was)1 o’clock that night when both the dogs stood up showed their teeth and ran up the mountain after what I’ll never know. Shortly thereafter they came back and resumed their watchful positions. Needless to say it was a long, grueling, cold night followed by a seemingly endless hot day with no food or water. Not to mention, a field mouse that kept running around and under me, bugs that crawled on me, and the countless ways I kept my mind preoccupied to pass the time. Towards the end of the 21 hours I was becoming disoriented, thinking it was much later in the day than it was and I finally started thinking I may die on this mountain. But again another miracle happened… down in the Valley I heard someone yelling fire and rescue! My dog’s ears perked up and I began to yell “I’m here!” with whatever energy I had left. Again, Maximus and Indigo ran off. But this time they ran down the mountain and the next time I saw them they were leading the fire and rescue person up the mountain. This was about 3:45 according to the fire and rescue person. About an hour and a half later I was riding on a helicopter to West Virginia University Hospital. The first phase of this ordeal was over and the recovery phase had just begun…

I had fractured the C3 and C4 vertebrae of my spine (they are in the neck) and had an incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). I had surgery to stabilize the fractured vertebrae and spent approximately two and a half weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at West Virginia University Hospital. I woke up from surgery still unable to move (except for very slight movement in my left arm and leg) and not allowed to talk much (so that my throat could heal from the ventilator). The following days were painful, uncomfortable and confusing. But I had around the clock support of family and friends both near and far and caring nurses and doctors that took the time to answer questions and tend to my needs. Eventually I was able to step down from ICU and we began a thorough search for the best place for me to begin physical rehabilitation. After days of research, phone calls, internet searches and discussion, we trusted our instincts and settled on Magee Rehabilitation hospital in Philadelphia, PA. It was one of the top rehabilitation centers in the country. Everyone at Magee Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital was welcoming and helpful as I adapted to my new reality. I soon adjusted to life there and the pace of therapy at Magee. It was exciting to be out of bed, finally working on rebuilding my strength, and once again having the freedom to come and go using a power wheelchair. Those early days were also filled with exhilarating moments as I gradually regained some movement in my arms and legs. When it was time to be discharged from inpatient, I had mixed feelings- I had an amazing group of therapists that believed in me and helped me make so much progress and I had made many friends that I might not see again. We made the decision to move to Philadelphia in order to continue outpatient therapy at Magee’s Riverfront location. Despite some apprehension about leaving Physical and Occupational Therapists I knew were the best I forged ahead to Intensive Outpatient therapy at Magee Riverfront. I was pleasantly surprised to find that outpatient therapy was a more intense pace than inpatient had been. I have never been one to fear hard work and the Therapists here weren’t either. They care more than anyone could imagine possible and they motivate everyone to work to their full potential. With their support and the use of locomotion training (i.e. harness supported treadmill) at Magee Riverfront, I have made huge strides including beginning to transfer, stand and walk with walker/crutches for short distances. Although I have made great progress, I still have a long recovery ahead. With your donations to this event and others like it, the prognosis for my recovery gets brighter each day.


The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for individuals living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.

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