A benefit for Collin Kleditz will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Silver Lake Lanes, Scandinavia.
Proceeds from the benefit will help with uninsured expenses for Kleditz, who became a quadriplegic after a July 2013 ATV accident.
According to his fiancé, Amber Joers, of Scandinavia, his C6-7 vertebrae were fractured, leaving him breathing through a ventilator, with no leg function and limited hand and arm function.
“Though he is on Medicare, we are facing huge expenses to move home so that Collin can regain his independence and reconnect with home after almost two years in the hospital setting,” Joers said. “The funds will go to helping us purchase medical equipment, a handicapped accessible vehicle and making our home accessible to get around.”
Kleditz is currently in a long-term acute care hospital in Madison. According to his family, it is one of only four such facilities in the state that accept ventilator patients.
They feel lucky to at least have him in a Wisconsin facility, but closer would be better. His parents and his fiancé may only visit him a few times a week.
“We want him home,” said his mother, Maureen Kleditz, of Scandinavia.
“He needs to be closer to the people he loves and cares about to reconnect him to his life,” Joers said.
Just in the past weeks, Kleditz has started working on getting off the ventilator, which will decrease his level of care.
There is no cost to attend the benefit, but there is a $20 entry fee for the nine-pin bowling tournament. There will also be various raffles and a Skype call with Kleditz.
According to Joers, the April 18 benefit will also raise awareness for the struggle facing the families of those who are seriously injured.
“We’re trying to make enough for our needs, but I want to help spread the word about the needs of other people suffering from spinal cord injuries,” Joers said.
“When you go through a traumatic experience like Collin did, there’s no guidebook,” she said. “You learn as you go.”
“When it first happens, there are so many things to handle and so many emotions to go through,” Joers said. “(Healthcare workers) treat the disability like a terminal illness.”
With the help of the Waupaca County Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and other foundations, Joers has learned to use Internet resources to guide her through the process.
“There is no overall case worker for a disabled person,” she said. “It changes from facility to facility.”
According to his mother, Kleditz was born with cerebral palsy, so this is not the first challenge he has faced.
“Ever since he was little, they were saying he won’t walk and he won’t talk,” Maureen Kleditz said. “He has been talking since age 3, and he began walking in kindergarten.”
When they first met six years ago, Joers did not realize he had a disability.
“I don’t believe anybody should be defined by a disability,” she said. “Some people just assume when somebody has a disability that they don’t have a voice. In reality, they are stronger willed than most people.”
“Collin still continues to fight. He keeps his head up and he still smiles,” Joers said. “Knowing that he is pushing forward keeps me pushing forward.”
The fundraising campaign has been established for Kleditz through HelpHOPELive, a nonprofit organization that has been providing community-based fundraising guidance to patients and their families for more than 30 years.
All donations are tax-deductible, are held by HelpHOPELive in the North-Central Spinal Cord Injury Fund and are administered by HelpHOPELive for injury-related expenses only.
Tax deductible contributions may be sent to HelpHOPELive, with “In honor of Collin Kleditz” in the memo section of the check. The address is: HelpHOPELive, 2 Radnor Corporate Center, 100 Matsonford Road, Suite 100, Radnor, PA 19087.
For more information, call 800-642-8399.
Joers currently is a direct care provider at Innovative Services in Stevens Point.
In the fall, Joers plans to study respiratory therapy at Midstate Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids. She hopes this training will eventually help her care for her fiancé at home.
In order to bring Kleditz home, Joers will need to find a suitable apartment with handicap accessibility. He will also need to qualify for professional at-home care.
Joers hopes the state of Wisconsin continues to fund IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self Direct). This self-directed program allows a disabled person to stay in their home by hiring workers and being in control of their own healthcare funds.
Currently about 12,000 people participate in Wisconsin’s IRIS program, which could be eliminated in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.
“IRIS gives a voice to a disabled person,” Joers said.