Article originally published on Ellington-Somers Patch.
In August, Ellington High School student Troy Russell broke two vertebrae in his neck in a diving accident at a beach in Narragansett.
A little under two months later, the athletic 17-year-old is making progress every day – and he is doing it with a smile.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” his aunt, Doreen Midford said. “He’s working hard. It’s not easy, but he’s such a champ. He just does what he’s got to do, and just looks forward to getting better every day. That’s kinda how he’s rolling with this. It’s been pretty impressive.”
The accident occurred on Aug. 13 when Russell dove over a large wave and hit his head on the sand below.
According to Midford, Russell wasn’t knocked out, but couldn’t move to get himself out of the water. He was pulled to safety and was then taken to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.
Within six hours of the accident, a 15-pound halo was put on, with it being screwed into Russell’s skull. The halo will remain on for three months and then removed. Once it is removed, Russell will stay in the hospital for another week and then will come home. This is expected to be sometime in November.
He can move his arms and now has an iPad – a gift from his grandparents – that he can operate to communicate with the rest of the world.
Midford said that Russell has sensation in the rest of his body, but can’t make it move yet. She said that the doctors won’t venture a guess on his prognosis.
“It’s six to eight weeks that the swelling can continue in the spinal cord,” she said. “Once the spinal cord stops swelling and starts calming down, that’s when you see what’s going to happen. They won’t say anything. It’s unpredictable what could happen. A lot can happen. Obviously we’re all very hopeful. I’m the internal optimist. I think he’s going to recover. It’s just going to be a long time.”
Right now, Russell is at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. According to his aunt, Russell only needs a couple of classes to graduate, so he has a couple of options. One option is going back next year and completing senior year, or having a tutor and graduating this year. She said that this decision has not been made yet.
While at the hospital Russell has had a constant stream of visitors, with many of them being his friends.
“It’s amazing the support from his friends,” she said. “It brings tears to your eyes how great people have been. The youth of Ellington is remarkable, I can’t say enough about them. It’s just unbelievable. The support he gets, gets him through this. It really, really does. I can’t imagine how hard it would be if he didn’t get this much support. It’s really important, I think, for recovery, to have that kind of support. It’s just great. You don’t have to ask for it, it just keeps coming. It really makes a difference.”
According to Midford, Russell has a very positive attitude and a great spirit.
“He keeps everybody up,” she said. “He’s funny and he goes with what’s going on. He’s a remarkable, remarkable person. We just take each day as it comes. I like the way he’s handling it. It just takes time – the body has to heal. His birthday is in March and he told me he plans to be walking by his birthday!”
Midford said that the family is very grateful for everyone who Russell. She also thanked the people who have put together and participated in fundraisers for her nephew.
“It’s impacting him in such a positive way,” she said. “Everyone is very grateful for everything that people have done and continue to do.”
There are a couple of fundraisers coming up that you can participate in. On Oct. 20, there will be a golf tournament at Elmcrest Country Club in East Longmeadow. Adults are $100 and students are $85. Registration forms are available at Bolles Motors or by calling Stone Oliver at 860-989-3360 or 860-872-2833.
If your company or family would like to sponsor a hole, the cost is $50 for a sign on either the tee or the green. Prizes will be awarded for the tournament and there is a chance to win a 2013 Dodge Dart on the first hole in one, compliments of Bolles Motors of Ellington.
There is also a dance at Maple Grove in Rockville from 7 p.m. until midnight on Nov. 3. The cost is $20 and there will be food, raffles, a DJ, and a cash bar. For tickets, or to help out, contact Brittany Bamforth at 860-966-8554 or Robin Krebs at 860-874-4299.