More than 25 years ago, I was the advisor to a group of about twenty high school kids from poor-to-average backgrounds but with high aspirations. It was a reflection of their hopefulness and self-confidence that, depending on the season, their principal activities as a youth group were snowboarding and acrobatic biking. These kids measured success by the amount of time their tricks took them into the air. They groomed and rode halfpipes in the winter and jumped bike ramps in the non-winter months. What they managed to do was truly amazing and, for me, inspiring. They literally appeared to defy the gravity that kept us “normal” people pinned to the ground—especially adults.
Dave Anderson was one of those kids, and he is still friends with the other guys who were part of that youth group. They have great respect and affection for him. He is an avid fisherman, hunter, and shed hunter among many other things. He recently took up his new favorite hobby of riding Harley-Davidsons. I didn’t know Dave well at the time, but some of those grown-up kids have approached me to write this post and ask for your help.
Three or four weeks ago, Dave was transported to the University of Colorado hospital in Aurora CO after calling 911. Dave had the flu, pneumonia, and his left leg had bruising all over it and had swollen to twice the size of his other leg. The pain was excruciating, but Dave acted like it was nothing. Yet it wasn’t.
It was determined he has Necrotizing Fasciitis, a very rare and aggressive infection, that spreads quickly throughout the body, causing tissue death at the site and beyond. He went into surgery for approximately 4 hours to remove the infected tissue; the surgeon said Dave was really unstable throughout the entire surgery and that it was extremely difficult. However, he also said he thought they had got most, if not all, of the infection out.
They moved him to the surgical ICU for the night and kept trying to stabilize him. The next morning, however, Dave was brought back to the OR and it was discovered the infection had spread more. At that point it was either trying to save his life, or save his leg. Dave’s left leg was amputated above the knee in order to save his life.
He is still in a life-threatening situation, and it could change at any moment. Right now he is heading down the path to recovery, and hopefully this direction will continue. He will still need skin grafts, reconstructive surgery on his leg, physical therapy, and of course a prosthetic leg. Unfortunately, Dave does not have any short-term or long-term disability and he will not be able to work for a long time. His health insurance leaves gaps for such a catastrophic illness.
But Dave is a survivor. He has been through so much before.
He comes from a mother-only household and he just recently met his biological father, with whom he does not maintain a relationship. Dave’s mother did the best she could raising him but endured the struggles of any single mother raising a kid in a low income part of Minneapolis. David never did graduate from high school but he does know the value of being a hard worker and worked his way to a manager position with Sam’s club. He later went on to a management position with Gander Mountain, which is where he worked until the amputation.
Roughly 15 years ago David was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the 4th stage. Because he had excellent health insurance, he was able to beat the cancer with chemo and radiation. Two years after his first bout, he was diagnosed with cancer again and endured another year of chemo and radiation. This time he needed to have a bone marrow transplant to save his life. Luckily for him, they were able to find a donor and get him that transplant.
He fell in love early with a girl from high school, and had a daughter Marriah, now a young woman, while he was in his early 20s. The girl he fell in love with had a son with another man before she and David got together. He raised that son like his own. Then about three years ago his wife came to him and told him she didn’t love him anymore and that she wanted to separate. It was 100% unexpected and it dealt a severe blow to him emotionally.
At New Year’s 2015 in Denver, Dave visited one of the kids from the youth group, liked what he saw, and decided that he wanted to relocate for a fresh start. From January to August 2015, he prepared for his departure from Minnesota and his new beginning in Colorado. But his home life also deteriorated during that time. His relationship with his wife got so bad that he moved into the garage for the last 4-5 months.
When August finally came, his Colorado friend drove to Minneapolis, helped him load his stuff, and drove him from Minnesota to Denver. He didn’t even make it in Colorado six months before this tragedy struck.
He currently has no means of income and really needs some help as he starts on the road to recovery. Dave would never ask for help himself, so his friends established a GoFundMe page for his medical expenses and support; they designated Marriah as the custodian. They set a goal of $10,000 and have raised $12,495—but that amount is certain to be insufficient given what lies before him.
Dave still has a long road ahead of him, but with his determination and with your support, I have no doubt he will get there. I am impressed by the enormous circle of friends and family Dave has, and I am sure once he becomes aware of how you supported him in his time of need, he will be astonished and realize how blessed he truly is.
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