Dear Friends, Family and Community:
In October of 2013, my husband, Joel Billman suffered a spinal cord injury following a devastating fall while out hiking. He is paralyzed from the waist down & has had spinal fusion surgery. To say the least, this has been a life changing event for the whole family.
Joel is a loving husband, wonderful father to our sons, Avery (13), Alex (23) and good friend to many. Prior to his accident, Joel worked as a chef at a local restaurant in Healdsburg. He is now unable to work in the profession that he has enjoyed for so long and do so much of what he has always taken for granted. In spite of the many struggles Joel faces on a daily basis, he remains positive and hopeful that he will return to an active and productive life within the community. He is dedicated to his physical therapy daily routine at home and at his physical therapy appointments.
Even with insurance, there are many expenses that are not covered and must be paid out of pocket. Some of these are co-pays, deductibles, medications, medical supplies and additional rehabilitative and water therapy. We need to purchase a modified van to accommodate Joel’s wheelchair. This is where we need the support of each of you.
A fundraising campaign in Joel’s honor has been established with HelpHOPELive, a trusted nonprofit organization that has been providing community-based fundraising guidance to patients & their families for more than 30 years. All donations are tax-deductible, are held by HelpHOPELive in the Southwest Spinal Cord Injury Fund, and are administered by HelpHOPELive for injury related expenses only. Please consider a contribution.
On behalf of Joel and our children, thank you for your kindness, generosity and support.
November 22, 2017
As I approach 4 years injured, and 3 years fundraising, I would like to thank all of you that have supported my recovery. My health has gotten worse again. Having a uti infection since August , that 3 batches of antibiotics hasn’t cured completely. Also neck shoulder nerve headaches are pretty bad, but hopefully chiropractic and pressure point massage will help. Thanks for your help.
May 23, 2017
Proud to announce the “BACKBREAKER 5K”
A charity funrun to assist me and my family with medical expenses and equipment needed for my spinal cord injury .
Look at Backbreaker 5k or healdsburg running company websites
Saturday May 27th 8:00 a.m.
November 18, 2016
Thanks to everyone for the recent donations. Dealing with paralysis is a lot easier when I know I have help. Back pain is chronic now but I have a new topical prescription that works okay.Hope everyone has a good holiday season and thanks again.
September 8, 2016
After 3 u.t.i. infections and a fungal infection and a food allergy, I am finally somewhat healthy. Now I am dealing with increased nerve pain, as I am returning to junior college adaptive p.e and trying 2 4-hour shifts at my old job. Should be holding a Facebook event soon, as my funds for medical expenses are dwindling. Thanks for your help, and stay tuned for more.
May 27, 2016
May 2, 2016
So excited, rode handcycles in Berkeley last week. Proud to announce the Healdsburg Fire Department will be purchasing a handcycle for me. I am looking forward to biking again for independence, transportation and the joy of bicycling. Live to ride, Ride to live.
March 31, 2016
Most health issues with a spinal cord injury are not visible. Here is my list of afflictions I battle with.
1. Nerve pain: constant electric leg buzzing, pins, needles, burning, freezing, numbness.
2. Spascisity: spasms, convulsing, muscle & joint pain & tightness, debilitating pain
3. Bowel & Bladder: uncontrollable flaccid b&b, catheterization, diapers, incontinence, laxatives, urinary tract infections
4. Sexual dysfunction: no visual stimulation, erectile dysfunction
5. Paralysis: unable to walk or stand unaided affects organs, circulation, muscles, bones
6. Spinal pain: lower back and spinal nerves tightening muscles and spinal fusion .
7. Skin pressure sensitivity. Lost protective nerve layer. Special cushions, bed needed
8. Circulation: pressure socks, foot and leg swelling, cold & hot spots, pale skin zones
9. Traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, cognitive, social skills, withdrawal
10. Social status: stereotypes, staring, 2nd class citizen, people uncomfortable with disabled people
Sorry to rant but this is my life now.
February 29, 2016
Pushing my p.t. Have gone from standing in walker or standing frame from 5 minutes to 13 minutes a day. Doing swimming and gym at junior college twice a week. With increased activity comes more nerve pain and spasms. As I work thru this I am lifted by everyone’s help and support. Welcome to Winona High School class of 1981.Thanks for the contact and help. Go Winhawks!
December 11, 2015
After 2 lengthy infections, I am getting back to doing more physical therapy. I will be finishing p.t. at Kaiser and starting the adaptive p.e. program at Santa Rosa Junior college. It’s a longer more intensive program and it’s got a indoor pool. I continue to battle physical and mental challenges every day, but everyone’s help and support keeps me fighting this debilitating condition . Thanks everyone and happy holidays.
August 18, 2015
Had a good BBQ benefit at Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg. Thanks to everyone that attended and supported me. The silent auction had some great items, the food was good, and we sold out the event. Thanks to all at Oakville Grocery who volunteered their time and effort. Also thanks to everyone that donated items for the auction and bbq.
August 6, 2015
BBQ fundraiser at Oakville Grocery, August 13th from 6-8 p.m , Healdsburg CA.
August 6, 2015
Rehab is progressing, walker and forearm crutch practice at p.t. is going well. Had my first outing with my walker. It was only across the street, up 3 steps and into a neighbors house. Wasn’t far but it’s a start.
June 23, 2015
Had a good benefit dinner at Chalkboard restaurant on June 9th. Thanks to all that attended, and a huge thanks to everyone at chalkboard. Also rolled 3k in the Fitch mt. foot race . I had a few pushes on the hills but otherwise rolled along to a 31 minute finish. In p.t. I can now walk unassisted with forearm crutches, and walk in the pool without balance rings.
May 31, 2015
Benefit Dinner at chalkboard restaurant, June 9th 5 p.m. – close. Healdsburg Ca.
20 % of all of the evenings proceeds will go to HelpHOPELive in my honor to go toward my out of pocket rehabilitation expenses. Spread the word and eat well for a good cause. Looking forward to seeing everyone at Chalkboard
May 12, 2015
Thanks Healdsburg for a good turnout for the Library meet and greet event. It was good to tell my story, thank the rescuers, and spread the word about my charity . Made our move on the 1st. Now I have some mobility and independence. We like our new place, still unpacking but it’s getting there. Last time in the pool, I walked without balance rings or assistance. Also walking on forearm crutches in rehab .
June 1, 2015
With everyones help we are able to move back into Healdsburg. I will be able to wheel into town or take the city or county para-transit buses. This has been our biggest obstacle, mobility and independence will soon be ours.In rehab I have been walking with forearm crutches while using crane and harness for safety . Library meet and greet at the Healdsburg Library, April 29th 7-8 p.m.Thanks for the help everyone
March 16, 2015
Thanks to all the help from Winona and Washburn /Hayward area, your help has really pushed our charity forward. I have started aquatherapy and weight training, it seems to be a good complement to physical therapy. The water pressure on my unsettled nerves of my lower legs took a few times to get used to, but it’s nice to walk in the water. Upcoming events :
Spinal cord wellness clinic- vallejo rehab center. 4-8-2015
Healdsburg library event- learn tale of survival and recovery. Meet Joel , rescue crew, and support network in Healdsburg.
4-29-2015 7p.m. (time to be confirmed)
Chalkboard Restaurant Dinner Benefit.
Coming up in season, date and time to be determined.
Thanks every one who has helped. Being able to afford the medical costs, equipment, and rehab that I need to progress in my recovery is key.
January 29, 2015
Thanks to everyone that has helped and supported me and my family. Even though I face a lengthy recovery, progress with my p.t. has been positive. Recently I had been standing and walking with a crane device. Now I have graduated to walking with just a walker. Walking slow small steps for short distances. Still have a weaker right knee and no movement in my left ankle or foot, but with these funds we hope to pursue more aggressive rehab . Getting help, equipment, supplies, and medical expenses taken care of is our main goal. Everybody’s help makes us focus on my rehab instead of the medical expenses so Thank You.- Joel Billman and Family.
December 14, 2014
It is just over 1yr since Joel’s spinal injury & becoming a paraplegic. Through the hard work by Joel & the staffs at Stanford, Kaiser Vallejo Rehab & Santa Rosa Kaiser he survived his accident & is working toward getting his legs & systems from the waist down functioning again. Though time & hard work goes a long way in Joel’s recovery our family is finding the monetary burdens overwhelming. With Joel unable to work & state disability having ended after a year. Times are tough making regular ends meet & paying for insurance, doctor appointments, medications & PT sessions. I’m sure others understand the need to reach out when times get tough. Even in these times Joel works hard everyday doing his PT at home & never gives up. He has come a long way from the Stanford hospital bed to getting around in his wheelchair. We will keep adding pictures of Joel’s progress at PT and with life.
Photo Galleries (2)
November 1, 2017
We hope you are coping well..
Tom & Janet Brown
May 27, 2017
Free Fun Run for Joel called Roll with Joel or backbreaker5k.com! Come out tomorrow to HRC! Run starts at 8 am. Donations encouraged and accepted.
May 26, 2017
I'll be thinking of you from the cornfields of Iowa and cheering you on.
May 26, 2017
It was so great to visit and see that your attitude is still so good as you start another chapter in the recovery process. I know it is a huge challenge but just keep chipping away at it, one day at a time. I love you and it did my heart good to see you tackle the stairs at mini golf, lots of fun too. I hope I can make it out again later this year.
Your sister-Amy Billman
January 20, 2017
Keep on working on getting better.
Tom Janet Brown
January 21, 2017
Hi Joel, Nance & Avery - I heard a recent update from Dad and I think you are doing phenomenally well with all you are achieving. I'm sure it's really tough with the pain. Sending lots of love, Jen
January 21, 2017
Hi Joel! I don't get on facebook a lot but I see the amazing attitude you and Nance have even under the most difficult of situations and it is inspiring. I hope each day, week, month brings you closer to your goals
November 9, 2016
Yeah Joel, It's great to be back up with HelpHopeLive. I hope our fundraising efforts fill the tank so you can have some help purchasing medical supplies, visiting doctors and other health care practitioners and getting the assistance you need to continue on the long road to a happy healthy body/mind. You are worth every penny!!
March 4, 2016
Hey Joel, Thanks for the update! Winhawks, that's a blast from the past. I hope you know how many people are behind you in your continuing effort. Almost daily I have someone asking about your progress. It really helps them to be grateful for their lives realizing that all they have could change in a moment. They are amazed at the strength and perseverance you have and hope that if faced with a challenging situation they will be able to meet it so boldly. It helps to put their day to day obstacles in perspective. I love you!!! Carry on.
You sister, Amy Billman
February 26, 2016
Joel! Pat Graves here - from back in the day! I found you through out class reunion Facebook page and was happy to know you're still with us & heart sick by the challenging situation you're facing with your injury, the rehab and everyday work involved in regaining strength & function. Can't remember the last time we talked and the years fly by. I lived in MSP a few years before joining the Navy & had a full career as respiratory therapist, retired & now am a drug & alcohol counselor, living near Seattle with wife on a small farm. Wish it hadn't been so long since losing contact. You were a great friend & have many fond memories of the time we hung out & at work. Great pictures of your Mom & Amy. Call or email me if you'd like: seabecksquid @yahoo.com, 360-981-9052
September 15, 2015
Hi Joel, As a fellow wheelchair inhabitant, I am, as you are, not deterred from living the life that I can. Of course, I'm older (81 now), but back living in Camden, in the old RCA Building (very nice too!). Anyway, the point of this letter: I have so far built two websites (NOT blogs), which hold a) My writings, and b) Camden resources. I believe there is a future in building websites, one which we in wheelchairs can thrive upon. Here are my websites: http://newcamdentimes.com http://portwhitmantimes.com Check them out. Everybody, every place, every neighborhood, every town, etc., could have its own website. You could build them. I can show you how. Not rocket science, but interesting from a "point of view." Drop a line to me at [email protected] Best to you and yours. John Henry
H. John Henry
April 2, 2015
Hi Joel, Congratulations on your progress with rehabilitation, and I’m guessing that your obvious determination has other rewards as well. As yet another friend of Amy’s on the Bayfield peninsula, I’d encourage you to try sea-kayaking as your body permits; a nice mix of gentle upper and mid body movement, balance, physical emancipation, spiritual exhilaration--or gut fear, depending on the waves!--and, of course, a different perspective on natural beauty. Just a thought, but spirit and body seem to lead each other. Yes? Keep it up, Joel.
February 17, 2015
Wow, I heard you had a great PT session today. I'll call you tomorrow.
February 17, 2015
Great progress Joel !! We are thinking about you. Hope to visit one day.
Jim, Pam, Jessie, and Carly Steckling
January 30, 2015
Joel, I am a friend of Amy's and especially share her Buddhist beliefs. I worked with disabled students at a tech college for 30 years. Your progress is most encouraging and will continue, though not always at the pace you would like. Kudos to you And your wife for your determination and bravery! I will mail a check to HOPE today. Buddha says "develop pure compassion toward all sentient beings" Bless you in your uphill climb.
January 30, 2015
Joel, A bunch of us are pulling for you in Washburn, Wisconsin. Thanks to your sister Amy for letting us know how we can help from afar.
January 30, 2015
Dear Joel and Nance, Please take care and remember we are praying for you. Keep up the good work! Spring is coming.
Sue & Pete Marshall (Tom's sister and husband)
December 21, 2014
Hello from Wisconsin, I know it has been a long 14 months and you have all had to work really hard to get to this point. Joel, I am so impressed with the progress you are making. Keep it up!! I wish we could be there to help out on a more regular basis. I love and miss you all.
December 18, 2014
From Jacob, Natalie, and Zach, We wish you the best.
Mail a Check
Make checks payable to:
Help Hope Live
Note in memo:
In honor of Joel Billman
Help Hope Live
2 Radnor Corporate Center
100 Matsonford Road
Radnor, PA 19087