Dear Athletes Helping Athletes,
On Sept. 10, 2004, our then nineteen-year-old son Joel Buckingham was in a single-car rollover
accident in Lubbock, Texas and suffered a broken neck at the C4 through C7 vertebrae. We were
told he was a quadriplegic and he has a one percent chance of walking again.
Before Joel's accident he was always very active. When he was young, he played basketball,
baseball and soccer. He enjoyed soccer the most and played until his sophomore year of high
school. His real love, however, is snowboarding. He started skiing when he was five years old
and switched to boarding when he was twelve.
As soon as we got the news of his injury, I began to pray, knowing that we needed a miracle to
get Joel off the ventilator. Initially the doctors said Joel would not be able to move his arms
and because they considered him a complete injury, he would likely never get anything back
below his level of injury, which is just above the pectorals.
We moved him to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado in October 2004, where he stayed until
January 2005. While at Craig, he made a remarkable recovery, and upon his discharge he was in a
manual wheelchair. He had re-gained use of both of his arms, shoulders, the triceps in the left
arm and biceps in both arms and had sensation to the top of his belly button. While at Craig,
he was able to ride a handcycle, scuba dive and swim.
Joel returned home on January 13, 2005. Although he was happy to be home, he was very bored
because this once active young man now had nothing to do. It wasn't too long before his friends
got the courage to come by and see him. It did not take long for everyone to realize that he
was the same person he was before the accident.
Joel is now back in college, carrying twelve credit hours and studying to become a mechanical
engineer. On October 6, 2005 he passed his driving test and should be driving soon.
Because of the faith that we have in God, we have persevered through this last year. The Lord
has kept and sustained us and sent many special people into our lives. While talking to my
friend, Penny Wasem about Joel's accident and recovery, I mentioned that while at Craig
Hospital all of the young men loved the handcycles. It was a morale booster for the young men
who had lost so much of themselves to have something they could do that would make them feel
alive. It would have been a dream come true for these young men to be able to own their own
cycle. Joel would have liked for us to order him one before he left Craig. But between hospital
bills, medical supplies, medicine and physical therapy, there just wasn't any additional money
for a handcycle.
We appreciate all of Penny's efforts and dedication to helping Joel attain his dream of owning
a handcycle. Having his own cycle would not only allow him more independence; it would also
help him to improve his overall physical and cardiovascular condition.
In closing, I would like to thank you for any considerations you make on Joel's behalf. Thank