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Trauma. Close to home.
As Alice Heidel drove into her quiet neighborhood, on August 20, 2009, the swirling lights of emergency vehicles caused her to whisper a prayer for the hurt stranger. It’s who she is…it’s how she lives…
Little did she know, behind the flashing lights and hurried EMT’s was the mangled body of her dearly loved husband Chuck.
Chuck was returning home from his usual evening bike ride. Just two blocks from his home, an approaching car turned into Chuck’s path and violently struck and threw him from his bike.
Within moments of returning to the neighborhood, Alice received word that Chuck had been injured. The scene flashed back. The injured person she thought was a stranger was actually her husband, Chuck!
Chuck was conscious at the scene but had no feeling or movement below the neck. A helicopter was called, Chuck was rolled on a field toward the chopper. Alice arrived at the scene, and in movie-like slow motion began to run toward the stretcher. Several police tried to stop her. All she could say was – ”No. That’s my husband!’
It was soon determined that he had sustained severe injuries to the spinal column. Specifically, the thoracic 1 vertebra had been fractured and knocked from its place under cervical 7 and was bruising the spinal cord. After a successful surgery to fuse the C7 vertebral with the T1 vertebra, by installing titanium rods, Chuck was confirmed “profoundly paralyzed” from the mid-torso through his toes. It is highly likely that he will remain paralyzed his entire life. At present, his sensory and motor functions are limited to his upper body with limited use of his hands.
As you can imagine, the financial needs of the Heidel family are and will continue to be significant. Unfortunately, the driver who hit Chuck was significantly underinsured. So, while insurance, government aid and private institutions have off set much of the cost, there are major expenses that can only be covered with your generous assistance. We have a goal to raise $100,000 by Christmas to help Chuck and his family with these costs (for more information read on.)
You can learn more about spinal cord injuries and the projected, lifetime costs associated with them HERE.
Please click on the Contribute Now button to make an immediate online contribution by credit card or read below for instructions on mailing a contribution or for a list of Chuck’s friends you can call if you have any questions. Please use the E-mail to a Friend link above to spread the news.
More on Chuck Heidel (click on the red links for photos)
Whether on the field, in the boardroom, in the sanctuary, or at the kitchen table, Chuck Heidel has always been a commanding and beloved presence. Football players from Winston Churchill High School and from the University of Virginia Football Team knew him as a hard-working, devoted teammate who overcame many physical challenges and coped graciously with a career-ending knee injury. His Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers knew his love and great sense of humor. Colleagues from every stage of his professional career, from Marriott Hotels and Sandy Cove Christian Ministries to Facilities Plus and Merrill Corporation, have known a confident, capable man who takes each task seriously, learns from mistakes with humility, and fosters good humor and gracious relationships in the office. His spiritual leadership has been a gift to every congregation and fellowship group of which he has been a part, including Fourth Presbyterian Church, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christ Presbyterian Church in Elkton, MD and Christ Reformed Presbyterian Church in Laurel, MD.
Chuck is the beloved husband of Alice, his wife of 26 years. Their romance blossomed during their years at the University of Virginia and Randolph-Macon Women’s College, respectively. They are the proud parents of eight children. Emily (24) and Ginny (22) live in northern Virginia. Chip (21) and his wife Ellen live in Gaithersburg, MD. Allie (19), Caleb (17), Gifford (14), Gracie (13), and Calvin (10) live with Chuck and Alice in Laurel, MD. Family Photos.
After twelve days in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore Chuck was flown to theShepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, where he participated in physical and occupational therapy, specifically tailored to spinal cord injury patients. Mercifully, he did not sustain any brain damage and has not lost his mental deftness or sense of humor. At present his fingers lack their normal dexterity but the rest of his upper body is steadily growing stronger. His therapy regimen focuses on building stamina, strength, and basic motor skills to allow him to be as self-sufficient as possible in the future. He is re-learning to shift his own body weight, move himself around on various surfaces and furnishings, handle small objects, feed and dress himself and get around in public places.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2009, Chuck returned home to a joyful reunion with his family and community in Laurel. Their family is adjusting to the new normal and getting set up with local doctors and rehabilitation resources.
Chuck’s limited range of abilities have cast a great deal of uncertainty over his and his family’s future life. Chuck’s doctors hold out hope that he may very well regain the dexterity necessary to type and write, but for now he must rely on others’ hands or on voice-activated computer programs. Spinal injury patients commonly experience very low body temperatures regardless of the surrounding climate, so Chuck’s living spaces will require additional heating. Major modifications must be made to his house, as he is currently wheelchair-bound; these will include installing an accessible shower, widening doorways, installing ramps, and adjusting work surface heights. Chuck hopes to have both a motorized and a manual wheelchair, and will also require a shower chair. The motorized wheelchair will require that the family also have a van accessorized to accommodate it. To assist with home modifications, the purchase of a van, wheelchairs and other equipment, ongoing therapy, travel cost for therapy and other such costs not covered by insurance, Chuck’s friends, colleagues and family hope to raise $100,000 by Christmas 2009 to bless Chuck and his family. By all estimates this is just the beginning of ongoing, significant costs that will result from Chuck’s accident.
Family and friends of Chuck Heidel are raising money to pay for uninsured medical expenses associated with catastrophic injury. The following individuals are leading this effort and would be happy to answer any questions at the numbers below:
Ken Newsome, UVA ’81, President, AMF Bakery 804-314-7592
Mark Fisher, President, Sandy Cove Ministries 443-907-2828
Steve Colton, Owner, Zerores of Atlanta, Churchill High School 678-642-1228
Brad Colton, Marriott Corporation, Churchill High School
Dr. Randy Case, Group Area Chair, The C12 Group, UVA ‘81
Lee Bunn, Land Acquisition Manager, Standard Pacific Homes, UVA ‘80 919-604-3932
Lee Williams, Ostenson Real Estate Group, UVA ‘83 678-614-8600
Bob Strickland, Director, National Accounts, Coca-Cola Enterprises, UVA ‘82 404-372-0825
Don Meeks, Senior Pastor, Greenwich Presbyterian Church, UVA ‘82
Jimmy Kemp, Churchhill High School, Kemp Partners
Rod Clark, President, Facilities Plus
Chuck has chosen to fundraise with HelpHOPELive Catastrophic Injury Fund in part because HelpHOPELive provides both tax-deductibility and fiscal accountability to contributors. Contributors can be sure that funds contributed will be used only to pay or reimburse medically-related expenses. For more information, please contact HelpHOPELive at 800-642-8399.
Thanks for your support!
Photo Galleries (3)
February 14, 2012
Chuck and Alice!!! I have thought of you guys over the years and when I went to see if I could find Alice somewhere I came across this!! Wow...I am so sorry what has happened. Knowing you both and your faithfulness to the Lord, I believe you are most likely honoring and trusting the Lord in all this. Would love to chat sometime and catch up. Love you and God Bless!!!
Marianne (Emrick) Coulter
October 13, 2010
Dear Chuck & Alice: You have raised great kids and it is through them that we "know" you. As members of the homeschool family and God's family we offer our support and prayers to all of you.
The Fogleman Family
May 18, 2010
God Bless Chuck and his family. I have such fond memories of Chuck as a Phi brother at UVa in the early '80s in Charlottesville. Always kind, always giving, forever fun loving. I wish him strength and perseverance for the challenging road ahead. Keep the faith. We are all behind you. Regards, Bill Evanow
Bill Evanow/San Francisco
February 7, 2010
Chuck: My wife and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Bob and Frances Johnston
Bob Johnston/Gainesville Florida
February 1, 2010
Chuck - You are an amazing man, father and husband and Lorri and I are humbled and pleased to help out in any small way we can. I remember you fondly from high school, college and fraternity as a positive force and a man of enduring faith. May that faith and the love of your family and friends rejuvenate you and keep your spirits high. God bless you.
Wayne Zell, Great Falls, VA
January 31, 2010
You are one of the sweetest guys I have known, and I am happy that my current circumstance allows me to help in a very small way. Its the faith in and love of God that you have always had, along with your family and friends that will sustain you through these very difficult times.
Rich Bonaventura / [email protected]
January 10, 2010
Hi Chuck, I am a friend of Vonnie Clement and Shelly Izzi through adopting two daughters from China. I recently underwent DBS brain surgery for Parkinson's and during that time my daughter sent email updates to over 100 friends. I decided to turn that email list into a "Keepers Prayer Chain" and we have been sharing our prayer requests via email. The Lord miraculously brought me through my surgery and I am praying that He will bring healing, strength and provision to you and your family. God bless you, Alice, and your family as you watch His plan for you unfold.
Cheryl O'Neil, Laurel MD
January 6, 2010
Tom & Vonnie Clement made me aware of your situation. My prayers are for you and your family in the coming year, for continued strength, recovery, and progress. May the greater body of Christ through His church meet your financial needs. God Bless
Nina & Louis Klein, Valrico, Fl
January 1, 2010
Chuck, Alice & Family, What a beautiful family you have! You all continue to be in our thoughts and prayers -- especially that Chuck have continued health improvements and progress in his recovery.
Martha (West) & Rick Olson
December 31, 2009
Chuck, My family and I have been keeping you and yours in our prayers. It is wonderful to hear that you are able to be at home with the whole family, especially during the joyous Christmas season. I do hope that every little bit helps in the efforts to raise money for the van etc.! Love all the updates on Facebook and Caringbridge!
Mary Beth (McLuckie) Browne
December 21, 2009
Dear Chuck-- it was good to see you in your video message, showing the same determination and drive I remember so well from our days working together. You have been and will remain in my thoughts and prayers. Wishing you a blessed and peaceful Christmas with your family and continued strength in the days ahead.
December 17, 2009
Chuck, so sorry to hear about this, hoping for a complete recovery, wishing you and your family a joyous holiday season. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
December 16, 2009
Chuck, Alice & family - Best wishes for a safe and happy Christmas Season. Be strong and have faith. May God watch over you and yours...our prayers are with you.
December 14, 2009
My God be with all of you! I will pray for strength mentally and physically!
December 9, 2009
Chuck - good memories looking at the UVA pictures on this site. It's a wonderful way to be able to keep up with your progress and to find ways we can help. Know that you are prayed for regularly. We're not far away in Virginia and would love to see you and meet your family when we can. We're trusting that's God's grace and presence will sustain and keep you.
John and Kim Berlin
December 8, 2009
Be blessed & be well, Chuck. You da man!!! Things will happen in His time. Be in Him, live in Him. Cherish the day...
Jimmy "JT" Taylor
December 7, 2009
Dear Chuck and Alice, I have been following your story. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. My daughter Danielle has been friends with some of your children and now Katie is friends with Gracie. I know God will provide all your needs. He is our provider and protector. All things work for His Glory. God Bless!
Val Hartje and family
December 7, 2009
You and the family are in our thoughts and prayers. May God continue to bless and sustain you in His infinite grace and mercy!
Love, Christal Martz and Family
December 7, 2009
Chuck, Hello, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I hope and pray for a full recovery and want you to know I am thinking and praying for you often. may you be blessed, now and in the future. Much love to you and yours, Joe Bock
Joe Bock Rochester, NY
December 7, 2009
Hi Chuck and Alice. I've been thinking of you often. When Emily and I drove the 1000 miles to New Orleans last summer she kept me awake by telling me all kinds of Heidel family stories including how you met and married. I loved looking at all the new pictures on this site, especially the old ones. I hope that Chuck's health improves quickly, that family life is settled, and that all the blessings of the Christmas season are yours.
December 5, 2009
Hello, and please know that I am praying for your daily. I have contributed to your costs and and I pray the Lord will take care of your physical and financial needs. Many blessings and prayers for you and your family!!
Lee Ann Mancini
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In honor of Charles Heidel
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