7 a.m., July 31)
Family, friends band together to support Avalon family
By Fred Sherwin
is hard to say that someones been blessed after
theyve suffered a catastrophic accident that has
left them paralyzed from the waist down, but such is the
case for Michelle Earle who has been blessed with the
support of her family and friends since falling down an
embankment at a friends cottage two months ago.
and Mike Earle with their children Josh, Jasmine
and Jordan. Fred Sherwin/Photo
fall disintegrated Earles T12 vertebrae and severely
damaged her spine. She was at the Ottawa Hospital Civic
Campus for two weeks before being transferred to the Ottawa
Rehabilitation Centre where she has been staying for the
past six weeks while work is being done to retrofit her
Michelles husband Mike first heard the news that
his wife had been in an accident, he rushed to the hospital.
Nothing could prepare him for the news that awaited him
when he arrived.
said that she broke her spine and that she wont
be able to walk again. We were devastated and very upset.
I mean how do you react to something like that. But after
the initial shock wore off, I told her wed get through
it together, says Mike.
did make a comment about not being the woman I married
anymore, but shes still the woman I married and
nothing has really changed. Shes the light of my
life and were going to get through this together."
credits her husband for helping her get through those
first few difficult days.
one of those situations that can either pull you together
or pull you apart. And for us, its really pulled
us together. In fact our marriage is stronger now than
its ever been. When Ive had those tough days,
hes constantly reminding me that were going
to get through this no matter what and hes not going
anywhere. Its going to be difficult, but were
going to do it.
and Mike Earle are joined by some of the people
who have been helping renovate their house
so that Michelle can return home. Fred Sherwin/Photo
of getting through it is making sure the house is ready
so Michelle can come home to care for her husband and
their three children Jordan, 11, Josh, 17, and Jasmine,
20. That involves extensive, and costly, renovations.
insurance policies don't cover the cost of retrofitting
a house, it has to be born entirely by the owner and the
to do list is extremely, long starting with
the construction of am entrance ramp that must be built
to code. Then there are the modifications to the bathroom
including new fixtures that are wheelchair friendly, a
hardwood or laminate floor, a chair lift for the stairs,
and renovations to the kitchen.
estimated cost of the renovations to the Earle household
is over $100,000, but thanks to some help from some friends
in the construction trades and the ability to purchase
many items at cost, the Earles have been able to limit
the financial hit to just over $60,000.
have dipped into their line of credit to cover some of
the costs, but there is a limit that any family can bear,
which is why Mike and Michelle feel so blessed by the
generosity of their friends and the community at large.
a recent fundraising event at the Big Rig restaurant on
Ogilvie Road, over $16,000 was raised. Close to $4,000
more has been raised through a Go Fund Me account at www.gofundme.com/xy8j5s.
friends, Chantal and Jason Nicholson. have been especially
supportive, as have a number of close friends and family
members. Chantal organized the fundraising event at the
Big Rig, and Jason built the wheelchair ramp in his spare
time along with Dave Bungay.
while the fundraising effort will continue until they
reach their $50,000 goal, the effort to bring Michelle
home is in full swing. The ramp is in place and the downstairs
washroom has been expanded and fitted with a new sink
last remaining hurdle to bringing Michelle home and having
her stay is the stair-lift which Mike hopes to have installed
in a week or two. In the meantime, the Earles are still
learning how to cope with Michelles injuries both
physically and psychologically.
fitness instructor says she still has a long way to go
to fully accept her new reality, but the good days are
starting to out-number the bad and the support and love
she has received from so many people has helped her overcome
the darker moments.
been a roller coaster of emotions, says Michelle.
Its not an easy situation, so there has been
days when its been really tough, but the support
Ive received from family and friends and coworkers
has been just incredible. Theres no way we can ever
thank them enough."
Earle has been left pleasantly thrilled by the support
theyve so far received from people he hasn't seen
or talked to in years, like the families of the kids he
coached in soccer and football four and five years ago/
incredibly heartwarming to tell you the truth. I had no
idea so many people would come out to support us and rally
behind us, says Mike.
Cumberland Panthers Football Club has been especially
supportive, reinforcing their slogan, Once a Panther,
always a Panther."
has also received support from her co-workers at the Youth
Services Bureau and members at Good Life Fitness where
she taught a spinning class before the accident/
her current goals are remaining active and returning to
Good Life to not only continue her workouts, but teach
a class as well. She is already touring around in a special
bike that is on loan from the rehab centre and the family
minivan has been modified to allow her to drive it.
having a positive attitude and a strong support network
is the secret to recovering from a catastrophic injury
like a broken spine and permanent paralysis, than Michelle
Earle is well on her way to a full recovery, if not physically
than at least mentally.
who knows, there is always hope that researchers will
come up with a procedure to repair spinal cord injuries
so that people like Michelle may one day walk again.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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