Gaylord gave me hope and helped me have a second chance.

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ImageSO, incase you haven’t gotten it yet. I LOVE CYCLING.  I also love giving.  Cycling + giving back = Joy.

I have had many organizations aid in bringing me this far.  One of them was Gaylord Hospital and Rehabilitation Center.   When I was about to be discharged, I knew when I got back home I had another solid year or more of surgeries and medical treatments.  This equated to the potential for serious depression and anger.  As one who studied psychology in college, worked as an EMT, and spent years in the non profit sector doing social service, I knew the best way to get out of my own head was to help others.  When we help others, we help ourselves.

I spent close to two months of my life as an inpatient at Gaylord. It was TOUGH. I was in a bed 22 hours a day, had four to five hours of wound care a day, daily shots, IV treatments, 1-2 hours a day out of bed in physical or occupational therapy with a wheel chair, catheter bag, wound vac, and heart rate machine attached to me.. spent countless tears in there.. and also received HUNDREDS of hugs by caring nurses, doctors, and staff. Learned what “patience” is supposed to be like when given care in the medical field.. always had a sympathetic touch, always had staff that believed in me, laughed with me, cried with me, and challenged me. Every night my husband would spend at my side.. they treated him like he was my extension (of which he is), I was admitted into Gaylord after almost two months at Yale. They transported me in an ambulance and wheeled me into the room. I was hoisted onto my hospital bed by three people. The first week I simply screamed and cried in pain and fear as the last month of my life was simply gone. One of the PT staff looked at me and said, “You are going to walk out of here, Do you believe me?”. I looked down at my broken and ripped open body and sobbed harder..What sort of mean woman was she to tease me? My head nurse Tina would come in and give it to me straight, “You will fight this, your a fighter to even be alive.. but this will be the toughest and longest fight of your life”. Well, three months after I was resuscitated TWICE I Did walk out of that hospital.. and made it home for Christmas. They promised me they would do whatever it took. When I came home, Gaylord had my home wound nurse set and ready to care for me, along with my PT and OT staff.

On December 16th, I told my nurse at Gaylord my scheme.  She smiled and said, “Sounds Awesome. I want you to meet Tara Knapp and Todd Munn”.  Tara is the Vice President of Development and Todd is the Director of the Sports Association at Gaylord. When the entered my room, I was embarrassed to speak with Gaylord Admin while I still had a catheter, a beeping wound vac, and bed head.  I introduced myself and asked if we could orchestrate a cycling tour.  They listened carefully as I explained my passion for cycling, my desire to give back.. and my hope to never stop advocating for the rights and education of cyclists.  Todd went on to explain the adaptive sports program.  I learned of the free clinics they offered to people with disabilities which included cycling, kayaking, and more.. This was right up my alley.

Since I had recently been let go with my employer due to the accident, I was heart sick and needed to “work” as much as I could, when I could.  Work equates to volunteering in between naps, wound changes, appointments, and therapy.  Regardless, taking on the cycling tour was a dream come true.

After much consideration, we began seeking places “off road” as I was run over “On the road”.  CT is home to some crazy drivers, fast paced society, and not the most environmentally friendly place Ive ever lived, but it does have some gorgeous fast, flat, PAVED trail systems… You can take them from New Haven into Mass and only be on main roads 10% of the time.  AWESOME.

Tara and I began having planning meetings at my home once a month to establish all the needed components and began seeking sponsors.. I decided to go for low amounts of sponsorship donations and share my story.. This seemed to work 🙂

Our current financial and on ground support sponsors include: Devils Gear cycling shop in New Haven Image and Jamis Bicycles (of which was the bike I was riding when run over by a freight truck, and Im happy to report her kick ass frame is still intact). Image Our sponsors for donations and support include Tifosi Sunglasses, and more.. We are hoping Zanes will still come through (hint) as they mentioned wanting to donate items.. and even Dunkin Donuts, Pea Pod, Giro, Diageo, and others.  We are also still looking for a t-shirt sponsor.

Those who want to raise additional funds and help us reach our goal of $ 10,000.00 can win some pretty fantastic prizes.. and the “know” that they helped Gaylord purchase three new adaptive bikes for people with disabilities.

Help me, help Gaylord give the gift of healing and health to others. You won’t regret it, and I promise you will have fun and meet some of the best souls on earth. http://www.gaylord.org/Home/WhyGaylord/SportsAssociation/SportsAssociationEvents.aspx

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— Oh, and as a foot note.. I am volunteering for all of this.. No, Im not getting paid.. So SSDI, I still hope you come through with benefits.. Thank you.

With peace and chain grease,

Colleen

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One response »

  1. Hi Colleen,

    I’m not sure where to start… except that your story has deeply moved me. I am also a cyclist as well and live in Farmington.

    I write a weekly column that runs on many of the Patch sites in CT. I recently wrote about bicycle safety: http://simsbury.patch.com/articles/cyclists-and-helmets-and-cars-oh-my#comment_4171567

    Your story needs to be told.

    My dad is a paraplegic as a result of a fall about 20 years ago. He also spent a lot of time at Gaylord.

    I would like to be a part of this event. I want to participate in the ride as well as help in promoting it.

    My email is ron.goralski@snet.net.

    Thank You,

    Ron

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