I'd like you to try a little experiment. Don't move, in any way, for just one minute.
Aggravating, isn't it? If you have an itch, you can't scratch it. Something in your eye? Too bad. Nose running? Tough.
You now have some idea of what Chad Larivee has been going through since July 29th.
Chad is a 43-year-old Taunton firefighter with a wife and three kids. He spent eight years as a hoseman, routinely entering burning buildings. More recently, he drove Taunton's Engine 1, the city's busiest pumper. During the past 17 years, he put his life on the line. That's what firefighters do. But, while helping a fellow jake with some roof repair on his day off, Chad fell 30 feet from a ladder and suffered a severe spinal cord injury. He was immediately paralyzed.
He was medflighted to Rhode Island Hospital, where he underwent 9 hours of surgery. After almost a month in their ICU, eating via a feeding tube and unable to speak because of a tracheotomy, he was moved to Spaulding Rehab in Charlestown. He remains there today, doing the hard work to try and regain some mobility. Currently, he is a tetraplegic. He has limited left arm movement only.
Since the injury, Chad's fellow firefighters say he has remained tremendously upbeat despite his troubles. And they'd know because they've been there for him. In Rhode Island, there was always at least one of the Taunton crew by his bedside 24/7. At Spaulding, a Taunton firefighter stays overnight, every night – 10pm to 6am – so Chad never wakes up alone. They scratch those itches and do whatever else is physically needed. Some firefighters in Worcester known as “The Ramp Gang”, assisted by their brothers from Taunton, Scituate, Franklin and Northbridge, donated their time and skills to build Chad an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp at his home. It is hoped Chad will be able to return home in November.
But there's a lot more work needed and the funds to do that work are staggering. Chad will need a specialized wheelchair and a chair van, a residential elevator, a mounted lift in his home, conversion of his bathroom and other spaces. It will cost hundreds of thousands and none of that specialty equipment is covered via insurance.
To raise what's needed, his friends in Taunton have set up a fundraising event on Sunday October 12th. Starting at noon, at The Jockey Club in Raynham, there will be five live bands; fun games like jump houses, bowling and face painting for kids (children 12 and under get in free); food and drinks; some superb items up for bid via auction (for example, all-expenses-paid trips to San Diego to see the Patriots play the Chargers or to California for the USC – Notre Dame game.) And you won't miss the Pats game if you go; you can see them take on the Buffalo Bills via a huge projector. More information is available at http://www.chadlariveefund.org/#!blog/c35h (or, if you can't make it that day and the spirit moves you, you can make a donation anyway.)
I'll be there on Sunday. I hope you will, too.