Financial Help & Fundraising

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on August 17, 2020

I am a mother of a C-4 Quadriplegic. My son Zack was 15 years old when he broke his neck at the beach. Life, as we knew it, changed forever in an instant. Our world completely turned upside down physically, emotionally, and financially. In the spinal cord injury world, things are not exactly cheap! I hope that everyone has medical insurance and gets covered with basic needs. The truth is, there are many other things needed that are not included. House modifications would be a good example. Fundraising is very common with this injury or any illness. In the beginning is when people are open, willing, and wanting to help, but it’s also the time that you are still in shock. I felt utterly overwhelmed by this new reality. I remember this time; I was trying to take it all in and learn everything I needed to know to take care of my now quadriplegic son. amber and zack

Luckily for me, I had my family and friends who took this on and planned a fundraiser for Zack at his high school. I felt like I was in a dream-like state all the time. Friends assured me all you need to do is show up, and we did. When we pulled into the parking lot, I said out loud, “there must be another function going on today, this place is packed!” I remember wheeling Zack passed hundreds of people waiting in a very, very long line. We got to the front, and I realized this was a line for tacos! What! People must have waited for hours. I was very touched by this outpouring of support. I wanted to say thank you to each person, but I was stunned. I believe people want to help, and this is a way they can do that. It’s hard for me to ask for help or money, but this was my son’s needs and his future, so I knew what I had to do. After the first fundraiser, we decided to have an annual St. Patty’s Day fundraiser. Having a specific need is better when trying to raise money. Some of the things we fundraised for were physical therapy, caregiving, college, a specific type of wheelchair and a wheelchair van. The year we got the van, we raised what we needed almost down to the penny!zack's fundraisers t-shirt

That first fundraiser was a community one, advertised to come out and support Zack Collie, a local teen who was paralyzed on Memorial Day at the beach. Supporters could buy food, raffle tickets, and win prizes that were donated. The following year we added a silent auction of donated items. One year we had t-shirts made and sold those in the following years as well. Each year we learned something and got better at it; each year was very different. We also went to other fundraisers to support others who had been injured. We went to golf tournaments followed by dinner, Casino nights, various themed parties with food & entertainment. We also did online fundraisers; GoFund Me is very popular; you can set up the site with information about the person, their story, and need. Then send that out to family, friends, and social media. Fundraising seems to be a big part of this injury unless you have money of your own or incredibly good insurance coverage; it seems to go together. I hope you don’t need to fundraise, but if you do have a need, give it a try. We have been the recipients of very kind and generous donors and have met some incredible people. I hope you will too.

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.