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Do-or-Dye

Shane Dye and Country Singer Frank Foster.

Shane Dye and Country Singer Frank Foster.

By: Christine Fanning

Team Reeve All Stars: Shane and Wendy Dye
Hometown: Farmerville, LA
Event: Do or Dye on D'Arbonne

Shane Dye, 44, spent 20 years dirt track racing, risking the possibility of infinite injuries. On the night of May 21, 2011, Shane's life changed and it happened in the most innocuous way. During a co-worker's son's birthday party, Shane and his friends decided to play on the children’s blow up slide.

"He said he heard a pop and had a burning, tingling sensation going on in the back of his neck," says Shane's wife, Wendy Dye, 38.

A barrier of change
"Shane had been down three or four times," Dye explains. "Following the rest of the guys, doing the same thing they were." Shane thought nothing of sliding down the children's slide, until his head hit the barrier of the pool at the end of the slide.

Shane's head snapped forward into his chest. "I'm an emergency room nurse," Dye says. "So, I knew he broke it immediately." Shane fractured his C2 vertebrae while separating his C4 and C5 vertebras. The force also caused Shane's spinal cord to stretch 1.75 inches.

"I think it's more terrifying to know what’s going on," Dye explains. "I would rather be clueless." Dye knew what Shane's recovery looked like from the moment the doctor assessed his injury. "You're strong until, maybe, you get the diagnosis," says Dye.

Shane Dye after his injury.

Shane Dye after his injury.

The road to recovery
Although his injury did not end up with the diagnosis of paralysis, Shane's road to recovery is far from over. To help his spinal cord, a halo device was put in place for 12 weeks to help the C2 vertebrae fracture heal. Shane's neurologist is also concerned about the possibility of future surgery in order to fix the gap between his C4 and C5 vertebra. In addition to the spinal cord injuries, Shane also suffers short-term memory loss from his head hitting the barrier of the pool.

Aside from spending nights sleeping on the hospital floor of Shane's room, Dye is working 12 hour daily shifts as an emergency room nurse to help pay for the injury. Shane's healing process prevents him from working, leaving Dye in charge of the expensive recovery process.

"He feels strongly, since he got hurt," explains Dye, "that he's blessed he didn't experience any neurological deficits." Shane believes that he needs to be an advocate for the spinal cord injury (SCI) community, and help his wife with medical expenses.

Do or Dye on D'Arbonne benefit poster.

Do or Dye on D'Arbonne benefit poster.

Do or Dye on D'Arbonne
Shane and his friends, some living with paralysis, decided to throw a benefit concert. "He didn't want it to be solely about him," Dye says about the concert. "He's the one that wanted to give the money to someone else." A portion of the proceeds were used to help Shane's growing medical bills, while another portion was donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Organizing the Do or Dye on D'Arbonne (Do or Dye originating from Shane's dirt track racing motto and D'Arbonne after the lake it was hosted on) benefit concert turned into something larger than the Dyes imagined. Aside from performances by country singers Frank Foster, Heath Forbes, and Chris Canterbury, the Dyes also organized three other events for that day: a bass tournament, a motorcycle poker ride, and a silent auction.

"I think we've created a monster," Dye explains about the success of the benefit. The morning started off with a bass tournament, consisting of about 12 boats and 20 participants.

It continued into the motorcycle poker ride, where participants rode on a pre-set course to different stops. At each stop the rider chose from a bag of cards numbered anywhere from 1-300, and at the end of the course the top three riders with the largest numbers won monetary prizes.

The Do or Dye on D'Arbonne has turned into something that the Dyes will continue doing to help raise money for the SCI community. "The community saw how big it was," Dye explains, "and a lot of people are interested in doing another one."

Starting big and getting bigger
"It makes you feel good, it doesn't matter what you do," says Wendy about fundraising. "We started off big, so we'll go bigger. There's no telling how big it's going to get next time."

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders