RECENT EVENTS (News and Events for historical updates)
Current – Networking for more permanent job with greater responsibilities. Sharing apartment in Denver Tech Center in southeast Denver.
Summer 2014 – Helped fundraise for Craig Hospital Foundation. Vacationed in Telluride and attended Jazz festival with Papa. Thinking of skiing for first time this coming winter. Accelerated music composition on Apple computer software.
Winter/Spring 2014 – Finished Craig driving program, final delivery of van, Worked as part time research assistant at Colorado College for Chairman of Political Science department. Commuted 2 hours a day driving himself to Colorado Springs in new customized Sienna van. Thank you Craig Hospital, State of Colorado, and generous donors!
12/13 – Brother Keefe visited for Christmas and new car initially delivered and started new Job at Colorado College
8/13 Had a fantastic week vacation with Papa in the San Juans, based out of Durango, driving over 1700 miles and 15 mountain passes.
1H13 – Worked on extra PT, driving testing, and follow on details to order a van and networked for a job.
1/13 – Formally received his BA in International Political Economy from Colorado College. Wonderful meeting with President Jill Tiefenthaler of Colorado College. Congratulations Bryce!
10/12 – Did some research work for the University of Denver law school recently. Bryce will be volunteering in the coming months there.
8-12 – Bryce entered the driving program at Craig Hospital and is doing additional Physical Therapy there to strengthen his body.
5/12 – Relocated to Denver on 5/19/12. Living permanently as a Colorado resident at Promenade Place in the Denver Tech Center with roommate who also graduated from Colorado College. Phone: 203-232-2705. Email: [email protected]
1/12 – Finished major coursework at Colorado College, 7 months after gratuating class peers. His degree in International Political Economy approved in 10/12.
8/10 – Returned to Colorado College, paralyzed from the chest down, less than one year after his accident on 8/30/09.
Videos to date: 1) Historical 2009-2010 video on vimeo.com http://vimeo.com/22866712 Hint: If the video stutters, click pause for 10-15 seconds to let the download get ahead, then hit play again. It’s a large HD file. 2) 2011 Pikes Peak drive/climb. http://vimeo.com/33085227.
For Bryce’s complete story, see updates below since the beginning.
On August 30, 2009, 20 year old Bryce Rafferty, a Colorado College junior, sustained a severe spinal cord injury upon diving into shallow water in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of this accident, young, athletic, and active Bryce was paralyzed from the chest down with no use of his legs, and limited use of his arms. Bryce turned 21 years old on May 7th, 2010.
TREATMENT AND SURGERIES TO DATE:Bryce was immediately airlifted from the accident site in Nyon, Switzerland to the Swiss Paraplegic Center in Nottwil, Switzerland where he required 3 surgeries to stabilize a destroyed C6 neck vertebra. After 45 days in the ICU, a life threatening bout of pneumonia, and 5 months of recovery and rehabilitation at the Swiss center, he relocated on January 18, 2010 to Craig Hospital in Denver for a 7 hour spinal cord de-tethering surgery and additional physical and occupational rehabilitation. Bryce finally returned home to Watertown, CT on May 6, 2010, a long 9 months after the accident. Bryce returned to Colorado College again in August, 2010 to complete his junior and senior years and graduated in 2012.
WHO IS BRYCE?
At the time of the accident, Bryce was an active 20-year-old International Political Economy major at Colorado College on a junior year semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland. Bryce is a graduate of The Taft School, Watertown, CT, where he played football and participated in track & field. Bryce was an expert skier, accomplished lead guitar player, avid hiker, and taught sailing and swimming at Camp Agawam, Raymond, Maine during the summer of 2009. He hoped to start a band his junior year at college after successfully writing, recording, and producing a CD of his own rock compositions with fellow musicians at Taft. Bryce’s mother, Jennifer Zaccara, a Trinity College graduate with a PhD in English from UCONN, is Associate Dean of Faculty and English teacher at The Taft School, Watertown, CT. His father, John Rafferty, a Deerfield Academy, Trinity College, and UCONN MBA graduate, is a SVP in Bank of America’s Global Risk Management – Enterprise Credit Risk group in NYC.
MEDICAL DETAIL AND IMPLICATIONS :
In SCI medical language, Bryce is classified as a C5-6 quadriplegic. Practically, this means he needs personal aide assistance for several hours in the morning to get up, shower, dress, and get into his wheelchair. He primarily uses a manual wheelchair with Emotion battery-assisted power wheels. He requires additional assistance during the day for range of motion exercises and to get back into bed at night. He will have periodic medical complications common to those sustaining spinal cord injuries and rehabilitation will continue over his lifetime. While insurance covered initial hospital and rehabilitation costs, and Medicaid is currently helping with home aides, once he starts working and earning reasonable income, his Medicaid support may fall away. His long term care costs exceed $1.0+ million.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
To help with these and other expenses (customized van, home modifications, therapies, and more) a fundraising campaign in Bryce’s honor has been established through HelpHOPELive – (www.helphopelive.org). Contributions are tax-deductible, qualify for corporate matching gifts, and are administered on behalf of Bryce’s injury-related expenses. If your heart moves you, please consider a financial contribution.
Make checks payable to: HelpHOPELive
Note in memo section: “In honor of Bryce Rafferty”
Please mail to: HelpHOPELive
Two Radnor Corporate Center
100 Matsonford Road, Suite 100
Radnor, PA 19087
For credit card contributions, please call 800-642-8399 or select the DONATE NOW button.
Together we can make a difference for Bryce during this challenging time. Many friends have already offered wonderful verbal, e-mail, and financial support and we thank you all to the depths of our hearts.
John Rafferty Jennifer Zaccara
September 5, 2014
Bryce’s Story – Update XXIV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Dearest friends and family,
We have reached the 5-year anniversary of Bryce’s accident! Since I last updated you in 2012, we experienced many highs and lows – periods of love, excitement, and joy as well as anxiety, anger, and frustration. Yet, we kept moving forward, step-by-step, roll-by-roll, and retained hope as we cast our fears on Him and received mercy and strength. Thank you to those who have continued to pray and support Bryce (and us).
Bryce and I moved out to Denver in mid-2012. Our objectives were to:
• Get Bryce settled,
• Obtain a drivers license (through Craig Hospital’s driving program),
• Purchase a new customized van, and
• Get a job.
Bryce achieved all of these goals. It was very hard work with many unforeseen delays and setbacks, including a recent battle with bedbugs in his apartment. Imagine being paralyzed and bitten for months without knowledge of them or how they got there? Bryce exhibited perseverance and patience and has successfully fought through the challenges. Five years ago in Switzerland, they told us getting back to a “new normal” would take five years. Indeed, that has proven true! We need help now in getting a more permanent job. He is ready.
New Achievements and Developments
Bryce has reached many new milestones. Overall, Bryce’s health has been good. While he continually fights bladder infections (common challenge of quadriplegia and paraplegia), he has not faced significant illnesses. We are grateful for his good health. A few of his key achievements include:
• Aggressive Physical Therapy – As a result of consistent PT (2x/week) at Craig Hospital’s Peak Center, Bryce’s left wrist and left pectoral muscle have come back giving him added flexibility in using two arms and hands for more activities.
• New Drivers License – After many scheduling delays and equipment setbacks, Bryce finally completed the Craig Hospital driving program in early 2014. Upon graduation, we were told he was one of their best students and a great driver.
• Purchase of Customized Toyota Sienna Minivan – This was the first use of substantial donated funds from all of you! The State of Colorado also donated substantial support for the customization. What a terrific combination! His new minivan has given him that long desired independent mobility to get out and about on his own. He loves to drive out into the country and take in the spectacular mountain views.
• Work – During the first half of 2014, Bryce researched special projects for the Colorado College Political Science Department Chair and commuted an hour to Colorado Springs two days a week, driving his new van using customized equipment (only with his arms). This experience built significant confidence to take on a more permanent job.
• Vacation – Last year Bryce and I travelled to Durango and covered 1750 miles through 15 mountain passes and the Chaco Canyon ruins in New Mexico. What great recreational therapy for both of us. This year, we rented a house in Telluride and attended the Telluride Jazz Festival. Dad and Meg provided the nursing care, adeptly practicing his morning and evening healthcare routine.
• New Music Composition – I’ll never forget the day Bryce played his own music for the first time since the accident. I heard the sound of guitar, but nobody was in the room except Bryce, Meg, and I. Meg had just shown Bryce a guitar App on her IPhone and he was now playing it with his knuckles. Later at Meg’s suggestion, he started using Garage Band on his MacBook. He now is composing musical scores, singing them into the computer, and preparing for the day when he can direct a band to play and sing his compositions. Keefe found a 20-minute collection of guitar shorts that Bryce had video taped of himself in college prior to the accident. Bryce will blend these fantastic pieces into his current music compositions. While his new music is unique and funky, our most excitement comes from seeing his musical spirit return.
While Bryce was growing and achieving, Meg and I had a very difficult year apart and came dangerously close to the abyss of divorce. However, the Lord intervened with some unexpected angels and “coincidences” to draw us back toward each other. Meg and I reconciled in July 2013 and she moved to Denver last October. Since then, we have focused on spending more time together accepting each other as we are and enjoying the blessings of being humbled and together.
A recent challenge for me has been dealing with a long-term broken elbow. I fell off my bike right after Meg arrived in Denver and broke my left elbow (radial head). I re-broke it in the same place in February (trying to recover too quickly) and again fractured it a month ago (falling off my bike again)! It has been very frustrating, preventing me from climbing more 14k peaks (my new passion) and from skiing.
Meanwhile Keefer continues on with his Naval Academy studies and crew. Two years ago, his summer activities took him to Oman for an Islamic immersion program. Last year he flew to the Virgin Islands for a Hurricane Hunter internship with the Air Force. This summer he traveled to Singapore, Japan, and Korea with the Surface Warfare group. He finished off this summer as a Commander of Papa Company in Annapolis, training 60 new plebes during the 2nd half of plebe summer. He just started his senior year with its new challenges. Wow, how time has flown. We are thankful he has loved every minute at Annapolis and is doing well.
So What Is Next?
Bryce has been looking for a new job since the Colorado College internship ended. While it gave him new confidence and independence, the budget was not there for continuation. While he prefers a 1 to 2 year position as a research assistant (prior to going back to graduate school in international relations studies), he is open to exploring different career avenues. He would really appreciate any contact referrals. If you have ideas, please call him directly to catch up and hear his thoughts directly. His cell phone number is 203-232-2705 and email is [email protected]gmail.com.
I have been working at Bank of America in the Specialized Industries Credit Review group for five years now, reviewing emerging risks and new transactions in the EMEA and CEEMEA emerging markets (including Russia and the Middle East), and examining various global specialized industry portfolios. However, I wish to return again to the buy-side investment management world, preferably in insurance company private placements or with a bank loan or high yield investment fund. I am open to trying new challenges and would appreciate any referral connections in Colorado. While we are here to stay in Colorado, now that things are stabilized with Bryce and he is more independent, I have more flexibility to travel and perhaps work in other cities during the week. I am reaching out to my contacts and friends in the meantime.
After closing up her Connecticut music therapy practice to move to Colorado, Meg is starting up her music therapy business in Colorado and looking for new client opportunities.
How Can You Support Bryce
I took a break from communications and fundraising for two years after essentially burning out, focusing on getting Bryce relocated and more independent, and re-building our marriage. We still hope to establish an annual fundraiser in New York and are thinking through the most appropriate way to do that.
Bryce has used funds from the HelpHOPELive fund for weekly physical therapy costs and for purchasing the new customized van. We are so grateful for each and every contribution. Clearly, because of you, Bryce’s quality of life has been much higher than we could provide without you.
Thank you all for continuing to follow Bryce’s story.
John & Meg
October 8, 2013
Dad’s update XXIII 8-25-12
Moved to Denver
Bryce’s Story – Update XXIII
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” (Colossians 1:9-14)
Dearest friends and family,
Thank you for being there, for reading, for listening, for supporting, and for praying for Bryce…….
Relocated to Denver, Colorado
We are within a week of Bryce’s 3-year accident anniversary! I am writing this 23rd update from Denver, Colorado, backing up Bryce as he gets established as an indendent new Colorado resident. This spring, we found the only roll-in shower apartment in the Denver metro area at the Denver Tech Center, a corporate/residential development in Southeast Denver near the Light Rail. Meg and I helped get his apartment ready in April/May, Bryce moved from Connecticut on 5/19/12, and his new roommate, Charlie Parsons, moved in early June (former classmate from Colorado College) as we moved out. Meg returned to Connecticut to work on her music therapy board certfication and other volunteer commitments while I found an apartment nearby. Bank of America Merrill Lynch was wonderfully flexible in allowing me to relocate out here for as long as needed. The move details and CT-CO Medicaid transition kept us very busy, but things are settling down now. We have learned that ADA compliant apartments and door access are very grey areas. Most apartment complexes are designed for paraplegics, not quadriplegics, and few have elevators and automatic door openers. Nonetheless, Bryce has increased independence abilities sharing his apartment and has started the driving program at Craig Hospital. We hope to enter 2013 with a substantial amount of new independence and flexibility from both wellness programs and a new van.
Lots of Sun and Good Health
Bryce has not been sick or had an infection for over 3 months, despite a cold and infection-prone 5 months back in Connecticut. The more consistent home health aid care and warm, sunny weather has been key. Bryce has exercised more often, taken advantage of public transportation optionality, and his college friends have visited frequently. Bryce led us on two beautiful expeditions to Breckenridge (over Loveland Pass) and Aspen (over Independence Pass). While a few mishaps have occurred out here, convincing me that it was the right decision to be here as his backup, Bryce has demonstrated solid independence. The June forest fires were disconcerting, but we reside in the relatively safe southeast area of Denver. Attached to this email, along with a picture of Bryce, is a picture of the Colorado Springs fire coming down out of the mountains taken by a friend north east of the city looking southwest over the Air Force Academy. Absolutely frightening how fast fires spread out here, fanned by drought and high winds.
Bryce spent January through May back at his Mom’s house in Watertown, Connecticut. He really enjoyed seeing family, but the weather was damp and cold and the hills and mud restricted him to a block radius area around their house. Thanks go to his mother, Grandma, Aunt Leslie, and the extended family for stepping in with care when health issues cropped up or his Mom had to travel for her job. The experience confirmed the critical importance of owning a handicapped van as rentals are very expensive. The high point of his CT excursions was attending brother Keefe’s Eastern Sprints rowing championships in Worcester, MA and hanging out at The Naval Academy tent. It was exciting as Keefe’s Navy freshman boat came in 6th in the east and 9th at the Nationals two weeks later, despite half the boat being new rowers. Obviously great Navy coaching. Keefe survived plebe summer and is now in his second year at the Naval Academy.
Challenges, yet growth
Yet, all is not peachy out here. Bryce is struggling to find an outlet for his love of music and creativity with music. Different, but equally challenging, are the social ramifications of being in a wheelchair in terms of friendships, intimacy, and general interactions with the public. While being in Colorado is extremely beneficial because of the climate and beauty, it is also difficult to be surrounded by symbols of his former life and the outdoors. He has experienced significant low points and moments of anger and frustration. That is normal; we expect that through this adjustment process. However he keeps getting up, orchestrating nurse transitions, wheeling up and down hills, and traveling increasingly on the light rail and buses. Early on, he figured out how to empty his own leg bag, a huge independence move and confidence builder. Recently, he even bushwhacked down a path with overgrown bushes trying to catch a train to meet me for dinner at the mall, getting stung in the neck by a bee in the process. Now that’s an adventure and an achievement! Hasn’t he had enough neck pain! Last weekend, we spent 3 hours lunching at 11,700 feet looking at the backside of Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt from Guanella Pass. This weekend, Papa finished the job, climbing to the top of Bierstadt, his first 14k Colorado mountain! A few weeks ago, Papa also climbed the Colorado Springs Incline.
Confidence will continue building as Bryce continues the Craig driving program, participates in additional wellness and physical therapy programs at Craig, and gets more into the job search. We had an exciting moment a few weeks ago when Bryce said he was interested in exploring a musical instrument again (first time since the accident). We will visit a large guitar store soon, exploring what electronic instruments might enable Bryce to play and compose music again. We are also scheduling him to fly in a small plane over the Rockies in October through a Craig recreational therapy program.
New website and contributor database – My next project is building a new donor database and a creating a unique direct website for Bryce to improve our communication, both via email and regular mail. Right now all I have is these emails and a bunch of mailing addresses. I have been challenged in finding time to attack it. I burned out last fall after the two years of stressful “on-the-go” to-dos, but am getting slowly back into sync. I still have a goal to throw a fundraiser jointly with Craig Hospital at one of Danny Meyer’s restaurants in NYC with a special guest speaker – probably next spring. I can’t emphasize enough how thankful we are for those who already stepped up to offer fundraising help. We are off to a good start.
Physical Therapy & Driving – The Craig transportation folks are identifying and evaluating his needs and coordinating specific details for customized equipment. Then he will practice driving weekly, ultimately earning a new license, enabling him to drive independently … a huge milestone. It’s a complicated assessment, training, and ordering process, but an exciting and hopeful one. Our first big expenditure will be the new van this fall. He is so big in his chair that we will probably buy a new Dodge or Chrysler min-van with a new 14” dropped floor. We looked at a Toyota last week with a 13” dropped floor, but he sits up too high! The state should pay for the customized improvements, while we will be responsible for the new van cost.
Apply to Graduate School – Bryce finally received his Colorado College degree, graduating with a major in International Political Economy. We are waiting to pick up the diploma in September/October, perhaps with an award if blessed. Bryce would like to attend graduate school for a Masters in International Relations within a year or two. His advisor wants him to apply to Harvard and Princeton given the strength of his senior year work. Denver University also has a strong combined International Relations/Law degree that he would like to explore. Bryce has Washington DC on his radar (think tanks, intelligence services) so Georgetown, George Washington, and Hopkins are also in view. We shall see how the fall season develops; one step at a time with patience. Right now, DU seems to be his top choice.
Job Search – In addition to Bryce’s driving and wellness/PT programming, he is looking for a part-time job to get his career launched, be productive, and earn some money. He is just starting the networking process. Bryce would like to explore corporate, legal, investment, or government analyst positions. He can now use the phone and computer, dictate papers and memos, and actually write with a special tool he uses to hold a pen or pencil. If you eat a meal with him, it’s hard to know he is paralyzed from the chest down, except that getting his legs under the table is often a challenging process. Bryce has a photographic memory, is a superior listener, and overall has great communication skills.
How You Can Help?
Continued Annual Donation Support – We encourage you to continue supporting Bryce through annual donations. Bryce requires ~$50,000/year of home health aide support that is not paid by health insurance. While he currently receives Medicaid support for that, once he begins a job and makes a reasonable income, that support falls away and he incurs those massive expenses. Our goal is to build at least a $1.0 million balance in his long term special needs trust, the “Bryce J Rafferty Trust” to pay for those expenses over his lifetime.
Job Networking – If you have any thoughts and/or contacts in Denver or elsewhere, Bryce would be happy to hear from you about people he could talk to about their work.
Invitations & Visits – Feel free to call or visit Bryce. While he has some travel mobility now, through slide board transfers to autos from his foldable wheelchair and use of public transportation, his travel mobility will increase dramatically after we purchase a customized handicapped van later this year. His current contact information is: Bryce J. Rafferty, 5260 South Ulster St., Apt 3025, Greenwood Village, CO 80111. Cell: 203-232-2705. Email: [email protected]gmail.com.
Photo Galleries (3)
October 6, 2014
Hey Bryce, My husband went to Deerfield with your dad, who has done a great job keeping us informed of your progress. How great to hear you are composing again! We are so proud of you, inspired by you and humbled by your spirit. May you always know how many people you are touching in a positive way. God Bless,
Carrie & Jeff Hoye, Houston TX
October 8, 2013
Still checking up on your progress, I hope things are OK and you are finally driving by now. Please give an update so we know how things are progressing. I still think about you often and again if I am having a bad day or things are not going well. I remember that you are an inspiration and remember how far you have come. I still keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Please let us know that things are good. Take care and again hope you are doing great and same for your family.
Daniel OSullivan- Chicago IL.
October 8, 2013
I also have been following since seeing your story on Juliana Hatfield's site- can't believe how fast 2 years have gone. When things get rough I tend to think of your journey and realize how easy I have it. You are an inspiration to all. I wish you the best and hope that your health only gets better. Thanks for sharing your life with us, it really puts things in perspective. Take care and I wish good things to you and your family.
Daniel OSullivan- Chicago IL.
October 8, 2013
Saw your link from Juliana Hatfield's site. That's a rough road you've had to travel. Don't know what to say except that my compassion goes out to you, and I wish you good things.
Matt Paldy/ New York City