Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So Proud Of My Son ~ An Update On Jeff One Year Later ~ And A Little About Heroes

Okay, so it's been 14 months rather than exactly a year, but I haven't had a lot of time to post here.  I set aside some time for it today because a mom's gotta brag.  ;)

Some of you may remember (for those of you who don't, here's the story) that last year my son, Jeff, was very badly burned in an accident on the day before his sixteenth birthday.  This happened, as luck would have it, just a couple of weeks after he'd been released from an extended hospital stay due to a previous incident, so it was a very bad time for him and for all of us.  I posted a couple of updates last year as he was healing (beautifully), but now that he's fully healed I wanted to just tell everyone what he's been up to since then...  And brag a little because I'm so proud of him.  :)

This is Jeff last year.  I never got a very "good" photo of the most severely burned parts of his face in the burn unit because he didn't like me taking pictures.  He was terribly afraid (as was I) that he was going to be permanently disfigured, and he wouldn't even allow mirrors, let alone cameras.  Anyway, this was him:

And part of his arm (again, I never got pics of the worst of it):

Now, on with the update/bragging:  

After being released and healing up well enough to go outside, Jeff hopped on his bicycle and rode to the fire station nearest to our home.  He walked in, told them his story and said that he wanted to volunteer so he could help other people.  Training he'd previously received as a Boy Scout was sufficient to qualify him to provide basic medical assistance.  The firefighters had Jeff on a truck that very day.  He immediately learned to handle dispatch and rode along on three emergency calls within the first couple of days of his volunteering.  Now he wants to be a paramedic!

Meanwhile, Jeff put his nose to the proverbial grindstone and got down to some hard work toward becoming an Eagle Scout.  As of now, he has completed everything except his final project, which is in progress.  He's temporarily put that on hold, though, because...

Jeff's spending this summer working full-time at Camp Geronimo as a lifeguard and teaching swimming classes for the littler Scouts.  I should probably mention, too, that Jeff attended Camp Geronimo last summer as a camper himself (on a full "campership" scholarship), while still bandaged up and on pain medication, and taught fire safety lessons to the kiddos.  They took things a little more seriously after meeting him in person.

Also last summer at a different camp, again while still bandaged up and on pain medication, Jeff pulled a 17-year-old boy larger than himself out of the Colorado River.  The boy had fallen out of a raft while white-water rafting.

Oh, and backing up a little bit...  Last December, on the way to a leadership training course he was attending, Jeff happened to be the first person to encounter an injured man in the middle of a highway who had been thrown from his motorcycle in a hit-and-run car accident.  Putting his training to work, Jeff tended to the man (who was in shock and unaware that he had multiple broken bones, some protruding from his shattered hand) until an ambulance arrived.

Jeff also rescued a woman in the Grand Canyon who'd been thrown from a horse and had broken ribs.  He signaled (using those signals they learn in Scouts) to a touring helicopter for assistance, made a sling for her out of his own clothing, and carried her to the rescue helicopter when it arrived.

I could go on.  I'm sure I'm forgetting things.  He's a busy kid, a tough kid, a great kid, and a go-getter.  As you might have ascertained by now, I'm really, really proud of him!

And this is Jeff now, just a few weeks ago, doing beautifully and with NO scars from his burns:

One last thing I'd like to add is that the lovely girl there in the photo with Jeff is Hayleigh Funk, his forever friend and my forever hero, because without Hayleigh there would quite literally be no Jeff.  I can't stress enough how true this is.  There was a time - and I won't go into too much detail because I haven't asked Jeff's permission to talk about it publicly - when Jeff himself was all alone and very near death.  Very near death (it took five days in I.C.U. to stabilize him).  It was Hayleigh who found him, and not by accident - she hunted him down with virtually no information on his whereabouts, no contact information for myself or any of his family, and with Jeff himself unconscious.  She found him with mere moments to spare, and she saved his life.

I am forever indebted, and forever proud to know them both.