Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Can You Help One Oregon Kid Without Health Insurance?

Here's something you folks in Central Oregon probably know about, but we got this from Ben Westlund today:
On April 1, Tyler Eklund, a 14-year-old snowboarder and Bend resident, was excited to be at his first national snowboarding competition near Lake Tahoe. But after a training run, while snowboarding down a relatively flat section, Tyler caught his toe edge and fell and fractured his C3 and C4 vertebrae. He is now hooked up to a ventilator and remains paralyzed from the neck down.

Tyler is uninsured and family is coping with medical bills that may top $30,000 a day for his month-plus Reno hospitalization. Tyler will soon be transferred to Legacy Emanuel in Portland and his family needs help to continue his care.

To top it off, their family home in Bend was burglarized while they were at their son's side.
Jeee-sus. No wonder the good people of that area have raised over $100,000 through low dollar stuff like car washes and raffles for Tyler and his family--that's some serious bad luck. In addition to the donations, a mother and her daughter are attempting to gain support for a pitch to Extreme Makeover Home Edition (which I suppose is still on the air after the host just got busted) to make their house disabled-accessible.

Tyler is actually lucky. He appears to have support from a lot of his neighbors, his Senator and other Oregonians who just think he could use the help. But the reality is that he's one of over 100,000 who are in exactly this situation if they get even moderately sick--where does the money to pay for it come from? For most of those kids, there is no crowd of angels waiting to soften the blow. A sudden, uncovered need for acute care can and does wreck families financially, and it really doesn't have to happen.

But it does and it did, and if you want to help bridge the gap for Tyler and his family you can do it in a couple ways. I knew nothing of The Sparrow Club before the donation link came with Westlund's email, but after doing a little looking around it's a very cool project. Kids from elementary to college age form a unit and adopt a "sparrow," the child in need. The idea and the charity comes from kids on behalf of other kids, which is really great and helps to sow a lifelong sense of community. This attitude comes out in their disclaimer that the purpose is NOT to be an internet charity fundraising vehicle, but
a cause to infuse compassion, courage, character and conscience into youth and school culture. Sparrow families should see themselves in giving roles as well. Your love, dignity and appreciation for the kids can make a lifelong impact on these heroic young helpers.
To support Tyler's group, you can donate here or follow this link to learn more and become a part of Sparrow Clubs. You can also download a form to get Tyler's house on Extreme Makeover, and maybe see if friends and people at the office wouldn't mind signing, eh?

Whatever you call your father's cousin's grandchildren (nephew once removed?), I have two of them who are avid boarders on Bachelor, and who are just behind Tyler in age. I think I've seen video of Tyler, as "the kid who is just awesome," and he was indeed pretty great for his age (maybe 12 at the time). Maybe I have him confused with another guy, but it doesn't really matter; it could have been any kid out there actually getting exercise and enjoying life. It was a freak accident and it's crazy that this should have to drive a family to bankruptcy. Thanks for your help.