Tag Archives: Becky Nelson

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Becky comes home

MP native returns five months after surviving horrific accident
MAPLE PARK—There weren’t many Christmas presents under the tree for the Nelson family this year, but nobody cared—Dave and Peggy Nelson got to bring their daughter, Becky, home from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago instead.

“We stayed away from too many gifts this year because we put the money into Becky,” said Anne Carson, Becky’s aunt. “We just got her some little stuff, some pencils and some games, because she’s got some younger cousins and we can play with her. She likes to draw, so she got a sketchpad.”

Becky came home to her parents’ dairy farm in Maple Park just two weeks before Christmas and is doing really well, Carson said, though she had to be taken to the emergency room on Christmas day to have an IV reinserted.

A hit-and-run accident in the Cayman Islands on July 1 had left Becky in a coma for nearly five weeks, with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered pelvis. It was a doubly nightmarish scenario because Becky had no health insurance at the time, wracking up huge medical bills while her parents struggled to get her transferred to a hospital in the Chicago area. Despite several brain surgeries and a hip surgery, as well as months of rehabilitation, she still has another surgery and more than a year of rehabilitation ahead of her.

Yet Becky’s progress has been significant, Carson said. Though she is still in a wheelchair and has a feeding tube, she has regained much of her speech.

“She can carry on a conversation with you, she knows everybody, she knows who you are, (and) she can help you do things,” Carson said. “Sometimes her speech depends on whether she’s tired or not, so (the therapists) are working on that to make it more clear. We’re around her all the time, so we can understand her fine.”

Becky is starting to write words again, Carson said, and can write her own name and other people’s names.

Her memory has also returned.

“It seems like everything’s working in her brain, and it seems that she remembers things really well,” Carson said. “Her memory’s totally working. She’ll remember stuff, (such as) something she did with her grandma, who died years ago, and things from her childhood.”

Therapists come a few days a week to continue her treatment at home. Becky is still receiving speech, physical and occupational therapy. A nurse makes regular visits to check her feeding tube, as well.

Another cranioplasty will be scheduled soon, Carson said, to put a metal plate in Becky’s head. Surgeons had to remove a portion of Becky’s skull after the accident to relieve the pressure on her brain, and the plate will replace the missing bone. Doctors initially put the plate in on Oct. 31, but removed it again when Becky developed an infection, leaving Becky with a soft, unprotected spot on her head.

“Medically, it’ll be nice to not have to worry about bumping that anymore,” Carson said.

If the family has a New Year’s resolution, Carson said, it’s to see that Becky keeps making progress.

“I think the next big step is to get her walking again,” Carson said. “She had to stay off the hip for three months (while it healed), so that was a long time she wasn’t putting any weight on her legs. They were doing therapy with her (at the RIC), and she was doing pretty well with the parallel bars, but it’s been harder at home because we don’t have the same equipment for her to do therapy on.”

Carson said the family was overwhelmed with gratitude for the community support. The Nelsons still have some funds remaining from the $24,000 raised at the Help Becky Bounce Back Fundraiser on Oct. 20 in Kaneville.

“Sometimes you have to fight with (Medicaid) about getting stuff paid, but so far that’s working OK,” Carson said. “The money is in the fund for extras and if something isn’t covered, but so far we haven’t spent it all yet. Money-wise, it’s much better.”

Now that Becky is home, several family members have volunteered to help care for Becky during the day, Carson said, which has allowed Peggy to return to work at Old Second Bank in Elburn a couple days a week.

“We just appreciate everybody’s help. With (the community’s) help, we were able to get her home, and Becky’s really grateful to everybody who’s been helping her. She’s always saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re awesome.’ She’s aware of people who have sent her cards and asked about her,” Carson said.

For updates on Becky’s progress, follow the Help Becky Bounce Back page on Facebook.

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Local residents ‘Help Becky Bounce Back’

KANEVILLE—Nearly 400 people came to Sunday’s Help Becky Bounce Back Benefit, with people packing the Kaneville Community Center’s gym to make frantic last-minute bids in the silent auction and then spilling outside to bid on live auction items.

And when the crowd melted away, Anne Carson sat down to tally how much had been raised to help pay the medical bills of her niece, Becky Nelson, the Maple Park native who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a hit-and-run accident in the Cayman Islands on July 1.

Becky, who had no health insurance, was in a coma for five weeks and will need two years of rehabilitative therapies as she relearns how to walk, dress herself and recover other daily functions. Medicaid will cover only 80 percent of her medical bills, leaving her and her family to pay the rest.

No one knew how much to expect—but the $24,000 raised exceeded all expectations.

“We were overwhelmed by how generous everyone was,” Carson said.

When Elburn resident Audry Buchanan, one of the organizers, heard the total from Carson, she pulled her car over to the side of the road and cried.

“Oh my God, I cried,” Buchanan said. “I was driving to Chicago, and I stopped en route and cried. $24,000? I was screaming in my car. I could not believe it, not in my wildest dreams. And I thought, ‘What a tribute to small towns.’”

The hottest auction item was a pair of front-row seats for the upcoming Nov. 11 Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers game, which went for $1,000 to Pete Peterson and Reece Bend, both from Shabbona, Ill. The two friends joked that they’d better get some Bulls jerseys before the game.

Yet they were just two of the many who bid on and bought 72 silent auction items, 18 live auction items and 33 bucket raffle items.

John and Darcy Weidner made the winning bids on two pies made by Mary Pritchard, the wife of Illinois State Representative Bob Pritchard. The Weidners, who own a farm in Virgil and have known the Nelson family for over 35 years, paid $120 per pie.

“We don’t want people thinking we’re rich or hoity-toity,” Darcy said. “(The Nelsons) are good farming family friends of ours. We came with an amount in mind to donate, and we bought something, that’s all.”

That spirit of community pervaded the event, something that thrilled Peggy Nelson, Becky’s mother.

“It’s been awesome,” Peggy said. “There was a huge turnout and a lot of support for Becky from friends, from family, from the community. We’ve had awesome people donating items, and it really helped to bring in people. And it’s just great to see this work being done for Becky.”

Though Becky has a long recovery ahead of her, Peggy said that she is making steady progress. A cranioplasty is scheduled for Oct. 31 to put a plate in her head, which will replace a section of skull removed during an earlier surgery. Once the plate is in, Becky will no longer have to wear a protective helmet.

“She has good days and bad days, but she continues to improve all the time,” Peggy said. “She’s talking more clearly. Before, it was hard to understand her, but she’s trying hard to articulate. And her sense of humor is still there. She makes little comments to me. The other day, I said, ‘I’m sorry, Becky, I couldn’t understand you.’ And she joked, ‘Mommy, focus!’ That’s the teacher in Becky that we know and love.”

Since Becky is a preschool teacher and once worked at the Kaneville Community Childcare Center, the family-friendly fundraiser featured games and crafts for kids.

Dozens of people volunteered their services, including DJ Ricky Nilsen, a Kaneland High School classmate of Becky’s who helped emcee the event; Josiah Jones, who performed his juggling act; Bruce Sims of Long Eared Livery Service, who provided mule-drawn wagon rides; Steve Almburg of Almburg Auctions in Malta, Ill., who conducted the live auction; Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville, which sold food and donated 10 percent of the proceeds; and Paisano’s Pizza in Elburn, which donated pizzas.

Nilsen said that he’d heard about Becky’s plight through Facebook and wanted to do something.

“Everyone needs to get together to do something. It’s how I feel about Kaneland as a whole. You need to do something as a community,” he said.

Elburn resident Lauren Steers, a seventh- grader at Harter Middle School, helped run the slingshot game and was among many young people who volunteered at the event. Though Steers had never met any of the Nelsons, she heard about the benefit from her mother, Nancy, and offered to come.

“I just felt like doing something for the community,” Lauren said. “So my mom and my brother and I, we all came. You get volunteer hours (at school) for it.”

Support for Becky also came in the form of bracelets from Taylor Schmidt, a 9-year-old girl from Aurora. Schmidt, whose mother works at Old Second Bank in Elburn with Peggy, made blue-and-white rubber band bracelets—“The blue is for the ocean”—and plans to give one to Becky once her doctors allow her to wear jewelry again.

Kaneville Village President Pat Hill, who has been selling fundraising bracelets and collecting donations at her store, said she was pleased with the community’s response.

“I’m very happy with the turnout,” Hill said. “The gym was packed. They’ve been coming and going. Becky’s a sweet girl, and she deserves our help. We’d all want someone to do the same for us. We take care of each other.”

Additional fundraisers may be planned, Buchanan said, because Becky’s medical bills will continue to rise. The next event is on Nov. 10 at Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill at 117 N. Main St. in Elburn. The restaurant—a new eatery from Dick and Annette Theobald, the owners of Paisano’s—will donate 10 percent of the day’s sales to the fundraising effort and will host a 50/50 raffle.

To follow the continuing fundraising effort and get updates on Becky’s progress, like the Help Becky Bounce Back page on Facebook.

“All you can say is thank you,” Peggy said. “It’s wonderful to see how much everybody loves Becky.”

Photos by Patti Wilk

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Helping Becky bounce back

We reported last month the story of Maple Park native Becky Nelson, who suffered extensive brain trauma and a shattered pelvis when she was struck by a vehicle in the Cayman Islands on July 1. Nelson didn’t have health insurance, and was flown from the Cayman Islands to a Miami hospital before she was finally transferred to a hospital in Chicago. She is currently undergoing therapy at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. However, her application for Medicaid is still being processed.

To say that Becky’s treatment is going to cost a lot of money is a severe understatement, and the amount of her bills that will be covered by her pending insurance is still unknown. Right now, she’s just working with a physical therapist to sit up and balance again and while beginning to regain her ability to speak.

As is typical of the Kaneland community, local residents have stepped up and put together a fundraiser for Becky in an attempt to cover her medical expenses.

Elburn Herald reporter Cheryl Borrowdale’s feature story on Becky’s fundraiser details the efforts of the Nelson family and Elburn resident Audry Buchanan as they work to put together the Help Becky Bounce Back fundraiser, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 20, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Kaneville Community Center.

Becky is a preschool teacher, and the event will feature numerous children’s activities, including a bounce house, Halloween-themed arts and crafts, wagon rides, games and face painting. Families can purchase $15 wristbands at the door to give their children unlimited access to activities, and families with three or more children can purchase wristbands for $10 each. Tickets for individual activities will also be available.

There will also be live music for the adults, as well as a bean bag tournament, a 50/50 raffle, a bucket raffle and a silent auction. Teams can register for the bags tournament for $20 a team.

Raffle prizes include two tickets to see the Chicago Bears play the Detroit Lions on Nov. 10 at Soldier Field, a queen-sized Sealy mattress and a Stihl leaf blower. Tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20; they are available now at Old Second Bank locations in Elburn, Kaneville and Maple Park, as well as at the event.

Silent auction items include a Kaneland Knights jersey autographed by Don Beebe, Blackhawks and Bears jerseys, a wine tasting for a party of eight, a photo session, a quilt, a private group yoga session, gift certificates and a variety of gift baskets. Donations of prizes are still being accepted, and the list is growing.

Food from Paisano’s and Hill’s Country Store will also be for sale, and some of the proceeds will go toward the fundraising effort.

We’re not surprised to see the local community doing everything it can to help one of its own, and these efforts remind us that we’re so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve the Kaneland area. If you have some time to set aside on Oct. 20, consider attending Becky’s fundraiser. It promises to be a great time for an even greater cause.