DARIEN, Conn. – Christina Yackery didn’t know where to turn for help when an accident at her parents’ Rowayton home left her father, Vince, paralyzed last spring. She quickly found support in the Darien and Rowayton communities though, and knows now that her neighbors are ready to help for the long haul.
“The community support and generosity has been an eye opener for us,’’ Yackery said. “The hardest thing to do is ask for help. But all we have to do is ask and people are at our door. We’ve learned how many friends we have, and how many people are behind us. Before this happened, we didn’t even know some of our neighbors in Rowayton. People I’ve never met before are coming to our door and asking to help. We call them Little Angels.”
The Darien restaurant The Goose even held a fundraiser in late December, donating 20 percent of liquor sales for one evening to the Yackery family. Other businesses have donated as well, and a walkathon in September helped raise additional funds.
The community’s generosity has raised nearly $80,000 so far, and last month the Yackery's were able to purchase a handicapped accessible van to transport Vince to appointments. The money also went towards the purchase of a motorized wheelchair.
“The van has been huge,’’ Christina said. “When he was home before, we’d try to get him to the doctor for rehab and it would take an hour. By the time we got him to the doctor, he had already been up too long. With the van, we can drive the chair right into the van and go. It’s such a gesture of freedom and independence.”
Vince was paralyzed from the shoulders down after a fall at home last April, and he has returned for only five weeks since the accident. He is getting therapy at the Westport Health Center, and Christina said she hopes he returns home again in the next week or two.
Christina and her family learned a lot during her father’s brief stays at home in the past year, including just how costly it will be to provide the care he needs.
“We’ve made the bare minimum in accommodations to get him home,’’ Christina said. “We’ve got a downstairs bedroom, a shower and we built a ramp. But he needs 24/7 care. He has to be flipped in his bed every few hours, even at night. There are a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. We’re not sure if he’ll be able to return to work.”
Christina said the estimate for first-year care for C-4 spinal cord injuries is $1 million, and $150,000 a year thereafter. “We are finding out that is pretty accurate,” she said. Insurance payments will cover daily rehabilitation and medical services for the first year. After April, Christina said insurance will only cover expenses for one or two days a week. “He really needs to be doing physical therapy every day,’’ she said. “We’ve learned we need somebody here 24/7.”
Working in the family’s favor is Vince’s positive outlook. He believes he will walk again, and has stayed optimistic throughout the ordeal. His attitude has helped his family retain a positive approach to a terrible tragedy.
“He keeps us inspired,’’ Christina said. “He’s always been very religious, and tells us nothing happens by accident. I look at his situation and how he handles it and I’m amazed. His attitude has taught me so much. I’ve felt much closer to him than I ever have before. It goes back to the little things. I don’t take things for granted anymore.”
Anyone who would like to help the Yackery family can click here to make an online donation.