Family seeks help from community
By Holly Neumann
For 6-year-old Cullen Schachtschneider, of Ogdensburg, life will never be the same. The young boy was seriously injured in a farming accident on Oct. 20 on his family farm.
Cullen was climbing up on a skid steer to talk to his father, when he lost his balance and fell. His leg stuck between bucket and machine.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” said his father Caleb. “All I want to say is that I wish this had never happened. God, I wish this would have never happened.”
The boy was first airlifted to Theda Care Regional Medical Center in Neenah and later to the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee for treatment.
Cullen to date has already had 10 surgeries to repair his injuries and is facing many more.
“The injury happened below his knee joint,” said his mother Amanda Smith. “And it missed a main artery by a millimeter. So in that respect he was lucky.”
Though his leg was not broken, it was what they refer to in the medical field as degloved.
“Basically, the machine pulled off the top two layers of his skin, from his knee down,” Caleb said.
Surgeries are currently being done to get all the dead tissue removed and to prevent it from spreading.
“The future for Cullen is very unpredictable,” Amanda said. “He faces at least 40 more surgeries. And when he grows, he may have to have more. But he is here, he is alive and that is what matters.”
Now the family is in need of some help, not only financially, but also on the family farm that is their only source of income right now.
Beside Cullen, they also have four other sons; Brogan, 2 months, Maric 9, Kholer, 8, and Aiven, 2.
“Right now, Caleb is in Milwaukee with Cullen,” Amanda said. “And I am home, trying to keep things going here.”
The pain shows on the face of Amanda when she talks about it all.
“I am still in shock,” she said. “Our family is split up. Caleb is in Milwaukee with Cullen. Our life is far from normal and I hate to ask for help. We weren’t in a good place before this happened and now it is even worse. This is not easy.”
That being said, she is thankful for all the help that they have already received.
“Our family has really come together,” she said. “And Fred Gruenwald and Brad Johnson have been great helping on the farm. There is so much work to do.”
Johnson, who teaches at the school Cullen attends, saw a family in need and reached out to help.
“I decided to volunteer on the farm because I knew my monetary donation wouldn’t do much to help their needs,” he said. “I knew Caleb was the main provider on the farm and he needed to be with Cullen. That meant the duties of the farm fell on her [Amanda] and Caleb’s cousin Fred. That’s a lot to handle along with the rest of the kids. I have some time and I am pretty good with manual labor so I knew I had something to offer.”
Johnson went on to say that it is extremely important to get this family the help they need.
“Cullen has a long way to go before he even has a chance to come back home,” said Johnson. “The main goal is to support Cullen and then help the family financially and emotionally. We can’t forget that there are four other kids in this situation that need to be cared for. They need food, clothes, school and their emotional well-being. There are plenty of ways to help and we can all help in some way or another.”
According to Johnson the immediate need is financial.
“Cullen is 10 surgeries in and they are nowhere near the end,” said Johnson. “Dad and family members are driving and staying down in Milwaukee constantly. And outside of that, just helping the other kids get back in their routines of school and life. They can’t afford to completely change their life for an extended period of time.”
Things like a wheel chair ramp and lift chair will be additional needs once Cullen comes home.
“That and add in some of the home health care he will need. I am not even sure at this point what else we will need once he comes home,” Amanda said. “The thought of bankruptcy has crossed my mind.”
The hardest part for Amanda is not being able to be with her son right now.
“Caleb is stronger than me,” she said. “So I know I am where I need to be right now. And Caleb is where he needs to be too.”
Her daily conversations with Cullen seem to help get her through.
“He told me, ‘Mama we don’t cry in this hospital,’” she said. “He has a pretty positive attitude for all he has been through. I have to stay strong, for him and my family.”
Cullen is in stable condition.
“He doesn’t really realize what is going on for him right now,” said Amanda. “He never wants to talk about it, just says it hurts.”
Before skin grafting can be done all the bacteria and infection must be gone from his leg.
“Adding to it all is the fact that Cullen suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS),” Amanda said. “This makes it difficult to regenerate tissue. This is not going to make it any easier.”
Anyone wishing to help this family financially can do so by calling Amanda Smith at 715-445-1749. Donations can be mailed to Schachtschneiders, N7121 County Trunk K, Ogdensburg, WI 54962.
Cullen has enjoyed getting mail from family and friends.
“This keeps his spirits up,” said Amanda. “And this can only help with the healing process.”
His address is: Cullen Schachtschneider, Children’s Hospital Room W1008, 9000 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226.