Friday, August 28, 2009

Sorry for the lack of updates, I'm (Neal, Matt's brother) heading up there next week for an in person status update and I'll do a write up of how he's doing. What I've seen from his posts on Facebook is that he's getting a little bit of strength out of his left tricep and that's good news. If he can get his triceps to work he'll be able to shift his own weight and have a little more independence with other activities.

Keep him in your thoughts and prayers for recovery, he still hasn't given up and even though things are not changing a whole lot on a daily basis he's still very positive and thrilled about even the littlest things. His attitude continues to be an example for the rest of us about not letting life's circumstances get you down and to just keep trying no matter what the odds.

Below is a link to a site for those of you in the Scott Valley area or Southern Oregon for an upcoming fundraising event September 19th.

by Mark Peaty

Social hour and silent auction 5:00 p.m.

Complete tri tip BBQ dinner 6:00 p.m.

Dessert and Live auction to begin at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets: $15 single, $25 couple, $5 children aged 10 or under

Special live music performed by Calico throughout the evening

Next organizational meeting: September 9 at 7:00 p.m. taking place at the Fort Jones Community Center

Donations are tax deductible through the Siskiyou Institute 503(c) account.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009 Update:

The big movie premiere is tonight in Mt. Shasta, Matt is going to be there, he has transportation in place and even a back up transportation plan. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers for safe travel from Oregon to California.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 Update:
Sorry for the lack of updates this week. Several of us have been busy getting the new house ready for Matt and his parents. We anticipate they will move in on Sunday. Finally, they can say goodbye to the sad little dungeon @ Providence House. Yeah!!

Hello everyone. Yesterday, in therapy, I stood up for the 1st time using a crazy sling and brace contraption. The sling holds me up and leg braces keep my knees from buckling under my body weight. I was able to hold 90% of my body weight. The therapists say this is a great start and I was able to do more than what most people can do their first time in this sling. Now, I want to be clear that this does not mean that I have strength or feeling in my legs. However, I am doing new cool stuff, like the standing sling, in therapy and this has been encouraging.

With the help of a wheelchair taxi van, I checked out the new house the other night and it is going to be a million times better than the closet I'm currently living in. It’s bright, open, spacious, and has a spectacular view. I'll miss the parking garage parties, but I think I'll manage ;) And I look forward to having space for friends and family to visit and take in the scenery with me.

I want to send huge thanks to the super motivated work crew that worked very hard to make the new place very homey and inviting! You guys ROCK!!! Now I don't have to live in a van down by the river. ;)

REMINDER!!! This Friday night, the Shasta Boyz will premiere their new kayaking movie as a benefit for yours truly. It starts at 7 at Mt. Shasta City Park. Let's get a HUGE crowd there. I'm going and I'm paralyzed. So what's your excuse? :) That’s what I thought…see you there!

Here is the site to see more about the event:

Also, please check out the ad on Craigslist re: my truck for sale….

Also, a great big thanks to the folks in Scott Valley for meeting this week and organizing a great event fundraiser for me that will take place in September.

….Thomas out!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday, August 16th Update:

Matt started outpatient therapy on Friday and was thrilled to find out that his favorite therapist has been assigned to work with him 3 days/week. Matt and his new therapist have 2 main therapy goals: 1. to keep his body, head to toes, in the best physical condition as is humanly possible and 2. to strengthen what is working right now so that he can be as independent as possible. Matt's arms continue to get stronger yet he still does not have movement or feeling in his legs. However, he does have a little more sensation in his nipples! This sensation is new and he didn't have the feeling a week ago. So slowly but surely, he is regaining a little more's just very slow progress.

Matt's determination and motivation grows more and more each day. Although Matt has some ups and downs, he refuses to be anything other than optimistic. One way he is staying motivated is by finding new ways to be independent. Tonight, Matt took a wheelchair taxi van, by himself, to and from a party at Talent Art Studio, hosted by his friend Gabriel Lipper. It was the first time he had been in a vehicle since the accident. Matt hung out with friends and even modeled for some of the artists as they painted and sketched his portrait (pictures will be posted soon!)

Taking these outings helps Matt maintain a sense of normalcy, which is so very important for him. Other good news: Matt and his family have found a place to live in Medford. They look forward to moving in at the end of this week!

Info re: fundraiser in Scott Valley from Diane Pomeroy:"Scott Valley Loves Matt Thomas" group is having an organizational meeting on Wednesday, August 19 at 7:00 in the Fort Jones Community Hall and are asking interested people from the valley, and also someone from Medford area, to attend to help us plan a fundraiser. We are hoping to have this even on Saturday, September 19 and at this point are asking for donations for an auction. We already have some great things, but could really use some more. And it would be great to get donations from the Medford area as well. Please contact Diane 531-468-2707 to offer suggestions or donations. Thank you

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday, August 13th Update:

Matt’s discharge from the hospital yesterday proved to be, well, a total junk show, (thanks in large part to our wonderful medical system). Matt and his parents moved across the hospital parking lot into the "Providence House." This is temporary housing owned by the hospital that is wheelchair accessible. This housing situation is not ideal. It's small, dark and, well, pretty damn depressing overall. BUT, luckily, it is only temporary until they can find a house that fits their needs. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task as the wheelchair accessible housing options in the Rogue Valley are quite pathetic.

The good news is that his private caregiver will start working with Matt tomorrow morning. This will give his mom and dad a much needed break from being the primary caregivers. Also, he starts outpatient therapy tomorrow. Matt is looking forward to this because the outpatient therapists will work him harder then the previous therapists did. He is excited to enter this next phase of therapy…his goals are to strengthen his arms and continue to move and stretch his lower extremities. Range of motion is key!

Certainly, Matt has had his ups and downs in the last 5 weeks, but all in all, he is simply amazing. How he can laugh at situations when most people (including myself) would want to cry is incredible. Matt has a long road ahead of him but he is still determined as ever and says he could not do this without everyone backing him up and cheering him on. Baby steps.....

If you’d like to support Matt and have a good time doing it, please join Matt and his fabulous friends for a premiere of the new kayaking film (featuring Matt Thomas) shown in Shasta, CA on Friday, August 21st. For more info, check out this link:

And for those folks in Cincinnati, please join me (Beth) and the Nolan family for Happy Hour @ Monk’s Cove on Friday, August 28th to raise money for Matt. Check this link for more info!

For all the kayakers and whitewater rafters out there, the wonderful Darin McQuoid has put together a raffle to help raise money for Matt. Please go to the link and buy or a raffle ticket...(or 2, 3, 4) for a chance to win some great gear!!

And last by not least, check out the article on Canoe & Kayak Magazine blog spot re: Matt's injury and how the river community is coming together to support him. very impressive.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday, August 11th Update:

Roland Stevenson made a video for Matt this weekend and the link is posted below!

Today, Matt's parents visited some different housing options around the valley. For the time being, they have decided to rent an apartment on the hosptial campus until they can find a house that works for them. Matt will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow afternoon and he will begin out patient therapy 3x/per week. Living outside of the hospital will definitely bring a new set of challenges for him and his family. But, it will also be the beginning of new opportunities for Matt and freedom from the confines the hospital rules! Bitter sweet for sure. - Beth

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just wanted to follow up on Beth's message yesterday about the 1st annual Matt Thomas Benefit raft trip...

Many thanks to everyone who helped out and donated- We raised over $5K with only two weeks of notice to all you busy folks out there! Matt's presence was missed dearly-- we'll try to get something on the calender earlier for next year so we can get a bigger group to do it again with Matt there. Special thanks to Jim Grantland, Dustin and Brandon Knapp, Gene & Peggy Allred, and Tony Smith for the food donations. Todd Gillman, New Belgium Brewing Co., Caldera Brewing Co., and Edenvale Winery for the drinks. Sundown Poachers for the awesome music. And Ken Smith, Jason & Gene Allred, and Anita & Dave Butler for the auction items. Thanks again, and hope to see you there next year. -Kyle

And another thanks to everyone that rafted, it was a great time on the river and a special thanks to Scott Eastman for getting us all together and on and off the river without any injuries. - Neal

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009 Update:

This weekend, Adventure Whitewater held the 1st Annual Matt Thomas Rehab Benefit. It was a huge success! 60+ friends and family came down to Paradise Point on the Lower Klamath to show their support for Matt. We danced, ate delicious food and enjoyed the water, weather and beautiful people.

Special thanks to the Allred family for organizing the event and the Sundown Poachers who played for the crowd. The only thing missing was Matt…but he promises to be there next year.

Even though most folks were down on the Klamath River, Matt still had plenty of visitors at the hospital, including his 2 best friends from Seattle. Today, he was given a “get out of jail (hospital)” pass. He cruised down the street to Mucho Gusto for lunch and went to the movie theater this evening. Ahhh, free at last….well, almost. Matt expects to be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. He and his parents are still unsure where they will live while he attends outpatient rehab at Providence. In the meantime, they will most likely stay in the hospital’s extended stay apartments. If anyone knows of wheelchair accessible housing available in the area, please let me know.

Thanks again for your continued love and support…the medical professionals at Providence say they have never seen anything like it. It’s awesome!!!! - Beth

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday, August 7th, 11am update:

Wednesday evening, a crew of Matt's friends rolled into the hospital with micro brews and pizza in hand. Nevermind "hospital policy", we were on a mission to have a nice, normal evening with our friend Matty. So we followed Matt to his favorite spot on the hospital grounds, (the top of the hospital parking garage) and hung out; just like old times. It was a great night, we all told stories, laughed till we cried and just enjoyed each others company. Check out the photos of our great night...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3rd @ 11pm Update:

Today, Matt was interviewed by the Mail Tribune (the local Medford newspaper). They asked him about the accident, what he’s doing now to rehab, his previous kayaking experiences, etc. They are coming back tomorrow to take photos and then we’ll wait for it to go to print. It will be posted under the “Outdoor” section of the newspaper so keep your eyes out for it! I’ll be sure to add the web link to this group for all you out-of-towners.

Once again, Matt started the week of therapy off on the right track. He is still working on rolling to one side on the therapy mat and hopes to master this task soon. When asked how rehab was today, he responded, “I’m exhausted and that’s a great thing. I’m more motivated [to recover] than ever.” The amount of support Matt is receiving (from every corner of the world) is really sinking in now and he is feeling everyone’s energy and love more strongly than ever. Matt wants to be sure that everyone knows how much he appreciates each one of you and all that you are doing for him and his family….old work partners, schoolmates, boating buddies, friends-of-friends, strangers, and, yes, even the wee-nids….it doesn’t matter because if you are reading this, then you are a friend of Matt’s and he is so very grateful to have you in his court….cheering him on. Thank you!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday August 3rd Update:

Wow, totalling up the July donations alone and I'm astounding at the support. This outpouring of support has been an incredible relief especially for my family at a time we were already facing some pretty dark circumstances. To have to worry about money and housing and transportation on top of just getting Matt on the road to recovery would have been overwhelming to say the least without your help. I'm not sure listing your names on a blog is enough to say thank you at all, I'd like to also have you all nominated for saint hood as well.

In all seriousness, I don't think my dad would have survived through July if we hadn't see this incredible response from friends, co-workers, and family. From people who have never met Matt, to those who are some of his closest friends... the response has been no different. Unconditional caring and support in a very trying time. You've allowed us all to focus on Matt's recovery and taken a huge burden off of us both financially and emotionally.

I don't want to simply emphasize the financial matters, but I'm not sure all of you even understand the impact here. My parents make very little money as school teachers in a rural area, and my brother has been unemployed since Thanksgiving. With facing the costs of rehabilitation and relocating to Medford my parents would have been facing some really tough choices in how they would all survive this situation and be able to keep giving Matt the best attention. Thanks to Terry at Providence they were able to expedite both his Social Security Disability paperwork and Medicaid paperwork. Also Matt's previous employer was able to get Matt on to COBRA thanks to a reform measure that was passed in February which extended his eligibility. I know this may be boring to most of you, but I assure you it is nothing short of a miracle that he is on COBRA and this event will be covered by that insurance (well a large portion of it) and Medicaid is kicking in already which will help cover some of the expenses outside of the hospital in getting Matt a accessible place to live and reimbursements for some transportation costs.

While we're still looking at pretty substantial expenses outside of those coverages, the picture has been made less bleak by your donations. Basically what you've allowed is time, every dollar that has come in has bought more time for us to research options, to look for housing, to come up with a plan for recovery and for how to take care of Matt in the interim. There are so many decisions to make and to throw worrying about paying for everything on top of that would be even more overwhelming. Every little bit that comes in is a huge help and allows us freedom to just focus on doing what is best for Matt right now and not worry about money.

I want to make sure everyone knows every cent that comes in (aside from the fees PayPal charges) is going to be put to good use. Part of it is going to the COBRA insurance payments (we only have to cover 35% of that his employer has graciously covered the other 65% through September) and the rest is being saved for other expenses (hopefully his wheelchair van, he really wants some independence and is hoping to get mobile again soon).

There's another fundraising event, the date and time has not yet been set, but keep on the blog and we'll let you know. It's a movie premier (with Matt in some of it kayaking) taking place in early 2010 in Mount Shasta. In the meantime if you're going to attend the Jefferson Sate Rehab Event please RSVP by tomorrow at the latest so we can get a final count especially for the rafting. Dinner we may run out of beer and spaghetti if we don't know how many people are coming, but you're welcome to show up and donate and at least listen to the band even if you don't RSVP.

Thank you all again really, amazing support, please keep it coming if you are able it has made a world of difference already! - Neal

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday, August 1st, 9am Update:

Matt had a crew of folks from Seattle to Montana to Shasta and, of course, the local valley visit him yesterday. Thanks to Dustin and Eva for bringing dinner. Matt also received an unexpected phone call from a good friend in Australia who is going through a similar situation. He felt very encouraged after hearing about the improvements his friend is making. The love and support is streaming in from all over the place!