On July 15, 2012 Glenn Landers, age 54, was about to leave at a family get together in Waterford, CT with his girlfriend of 10 years, Patty Fraser. He decided to stop and try out the family's new trampoline. He didn't make it all the way around on his first flip. Glenn landed neck first and just laid there.
"We all kind of thought he was kidding," says Nancy Shepard, Patty's sister. Luckily, Nancy is a nurse and Patty's other sister, Cheryl, is in the medical profession. Both knew CPR. When they realized Glenn wasn't breathing and was turning blue, they went to work and saved his life. Glenn was taken to the local intensive care unit.
(Photo: Nancy Shepard, Robin Williams, Paul Daversa)
His family started reaching out to anyone and everyone they knew looking for advice. Nancy knew of Christopher Reeve, the actor, but knew nothing about the Foundation or about spinal cord injury.
"It didn't touch my life," Nancy says. She was about to find out just how few degrees of separation there were between her and the spinal cord injury community.
A high school friend of Nancy's, whom she had not seen in 30 years, found out about the accident and offered his assistance. Paul Daversa also happened to be a board member for the Reeve Foundation. He pointed Glenn's family to the Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center (PRC)
. The PRC answered questions and did conferecne calls with the family and Glenn's case manager helping them make informed decisions.
"My advice to any family that finds themselves in this situation is to call the PRC first thing," says Nancy. She suggests to not be afraid to reach out right away to others that have already been through this as the best way to understand what's happening.
Glenn was moved to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA to start his rehabilitation. He was there for three months and is now back closer to home at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. His injury level is C2-C3 and he is breathing with a ventilator and living with quadriplegia. The next step is to transistion him to home.
As a self-employed electrician, Glenn's family knows he is going to need help with his finances. By August, they had organized a golf tournament and just last weekend, November 5, 2012, they held a brunch.
"Glenn is such a loved guy in town," says Nancy. Businesses, friends, and even strangers stepped up with donations of money, materials and time. Robin Williams, a college friend of Christopher Reeve and a long time friend of the Foundation, who was performing nearby, made a surprise appearance at the brunch and graciously took photos.
A high school friend of Patty's, Lee Whiting, a VP of Deep River Snacks
which is based in Old Lyme, helped get auction items and other donations for the event. Deep River also happens to be a Reeve Foundation corporate partner.
Being an electrician, Glenn knows a lot of people in the trades. Nancy says the carpenters and the plumbers are coming forward with offers to help make his home accessible.
"It has brought the whole town together," she says. "The out pouring of support is remarkable."
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