Marion resident Todd Winter’s fouth of July did not end in the way that he expected it to, but it could have been much worse and he and his wife Shawna are incredibly thankful for that and for their community.
When a friend offered Todd a ride on an ATV at a fourth of July party, he jumped on the chance since he had never been on one before and always wanted to. They went on a rock road that had a lot of ruts on it. The ATV hit one just right which caused them to shoot off and roll into a ditch.
“The ATV rolled over quickly on my side and pinned me. I ended up with 11 broken bones and seven surgeries from it,” said Todd. “They took me by ambulance to Wesley [Medical Center]. I don’t really remember the first few days—I think because the pain was so bad.”
It was really difficult for Shawna as well as she had to sit by and watch her husband suffer. But gradually things began to improve.
“The first 2 weeks were awful. He was in so much pain, they couldn’t seem to get it under control and he was having surgery every few days. Once we got past that, every day has been a little better than the day before. We’ve tried to stay focused on the blessings like that he’s still with us and that his injuries could have been so much worse,” said Shawna. “I read once, ‘Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace’.”
Shawna has been by his side through it all.
“My wife is super amazing and can do everything. She has been a rockstar through all of it,” said Todd.
And both of them realize how quickly life can change and that no matter how difficult things are or have been, it could always be worse.
Shawna said, “It can happen in a blink and your life changes forever. Events in our lives will now be categorized as “before the accident” or “after” but at least for my kids it won’t be “before my Dad died” vs after. When I think of it that way, it’s easier to be grateful.”
Todd and Shawna have been touched by the outpouring of love and support they have gotten from the community.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve this. The whole community has been amazing. The first time I ever cried in all of this was when I heard about the first Taco Food Truck fundraiser. My wife told me as they were wheeling me into either my neck or pelvic surgery—it all blurs together in the first four-five days—and it just meant so much. People have just been incredible,” Todd said.
While the healing journey has been stressful and emotional, and Todd has had to adjust to a new normal, things are improving.
“I can see what it can be in the future. I feel myself getting stronger each week. I should be able to start walking in October,” said Todd. “It’s hard just sitting around the house because I’m used to being active and now I just can’t be. But I will get there.”
Todd has really good friends though who make sure to include him in gatherings and make them handicap accessible for his wheelchair so he can attend and get out of the house.
“If I didn’t have all the support we did, the friends and the family, I can’t imagine how I would get through it,” said Todd.
Another way that the community has helped is financially.
This has been helpful for the family since Todd is unable to work right now and most likely won’t be able to return until January. And the medical bills are coming in.
In fact, the first bill they received was larger than the cap of their insurance payout and that bill isn’t including the doctors, physical therapies, a second hospital stay and more. And there will continue to be bills as Todd heals and needs more procedures and other care.
The Marion community has already done a lot to help out from a few fundraisers at That One Place in Marion to a local carwash and a recent cornhole tournament.
“Everyone has been so generous,” said Todd.
A group of Shawna’s friends are hosting a golf tournament on Saturday, Sept. 4 at the Marion County Club golf course.
“In 2014, my dad was suddenly taken from his job and spent months in hospitals. A small, caring community, same as we are experiencing here, helped alleviate this load for my parents and we want to help do that for the Winters. Todd and Shawna are such a big part of this community. What a blessing to be part of a community that loves and cares for their own,” said friend Angela Albin, one of the organizers of the golf tournament.
It is too late to register, but you can still participate in the silent auction that is open to the public from 1:30-5 p.m. There are also raffle tickets for a Stoeger Condor 12 gauge shotgun with tickets available at $10 each or six for $50. Golfers tee off at 9 a.m.
Another way to help the family is through a fund set up at Tampa State Bank. Let the bank know it is for Todd Winter.