Joel Buckingham
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Joel Buckingham

Joel Buckingham

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 you.

Robyn Cummins
October, 2005

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