The moment Dillon and I met our banter and lifestyles caught each other's attention immediately. He’s the kind of guy that you know is special right away. His warm, goofy heart and good intentions are a rare find, and even though we were initially across the country I didn't want to let that go. When we were together it was electric. His positivity and genuineness only enhanced mine and my ability to love. He's the kind of guy that would do absolutely anything to help the people he cares about. He loved nothing more than being able to jump on a longboard or bike with his dog Reef alongside and cruising however far to the peninsula to see his friends he loves so much. There has been nothing easier than loving him because he continuously gives it right back tenfold. The summer of 2014 was filled with horseback riding, trail running, off-roading, camping, body-surfing, tandem-bike-riding, anything we could do. I got to meet his family, many members of his Trojan swim family and almost all of his best friends, him taking so much pride in them and getting to introduce me. His sweetness overwhelms in the best way, filling normal situations with fun energy and the hearts of those that care for him with a safe feeling of love.
On September 13th, 2014 Dillon was going out to swim with friends on the peninsula when he dove from about 4 ft. of water to about 1 ft.of water. Storms earlier that week had moved around the sea floor and created an unsuspected sandbar. The impact caused his C5-C7 vertebrae to shatter and his spinal cord to nearly sever. Friends that he was with rushed right into the water once they saw him floating, and thankfully knew not to roll him and to brace his neck.
Fast forward through the longest year of Dillon's life: immediate surgery, nearly a month of intensive care, air medical transportation to Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta, 3 months of intensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and lifestyle adaptations, Dillon's first commercial flight, Dillon's first pneumonia scare, inpatient care, 2 apartments, occupational therapy and spinal cord injury intensive workouts every week, 9 months of his diligent parents attending to his care, the transition to nursing care and me moving in post-graduation, and here we are: standing at the prepuce of a significant marker in all of lives.For quadriplegia of Dillon's level the average yearly expenses are $739,874 for the first year, and $109,077 for each subsequent. The hardest part of this injury for him is that he would get so much joy from doing everything he could for others and now simple tasks can be hard or impossible because of his current mobility. He hates not being able to go hiking or surf with me like he used to, but still finds every opportunity to hold my bags in his lap or have me use him as my throne while he drives us. People have commended me for staying with him through this hard situation, but from the moment it happened it had never been a question. My whole heart was his and it was consuming to be away from him, and I do believe that his selfless good heart would have done the same.
I was lucky to visit Dillon as often as I did while finishing my senior year, and even though the weeks or months that would span between the visits were painful, every time I saw him he looked so much stronger. The process is slow, and with him confronted by it daily it can be hard for him to see the progress, but I see it every time I look at him. His good soul was a rarity but now his existence is a miracle. People die from these kind of accidents all the time, and by some grace of God I get to spend every day that I can with this boy. We have plans to renovate our sprinter van for camping, and find any other adaptations we can for our adventurous lifestyle together not to end.
His close friend Brian reached out to several of us and we began to organize a celebration for the one-year anniversary of his accident. We're making a day to celebrate Dillon's existence, good friends, good food, good vibes, and to be grateful for the mobility that we do have. I feel so grateful to be able to stand up out of bed every day, take the stairs or even just brush my own teeth and it's important for everyone to be thankful of too. If we were able to raise the money for the HexHog all-terrain vehicle Dillon would be able to come on the beach and even roll into the water with friends, go along with me and reef on trail runs while we camp, and go on other adventures he's only dreamed about since his accident. I honestly haven't seen him this excited about anything since his accident, and he's constantly reciting the machine's impressive stats. It would be the ideal transition piece into our new lifestyle as we keep working for positivity and mobility. Either way, it will be a great day with great people while we shed some positive light on a shitty day for a great man. I feel so proud to be his and so proud of the strength that he has held through all of this. September 13th, 12-5 at Pierce Street Annex in Costa Mesa! Let's show him how much he has to lean on :)
Jan 22, 2015
Hi everyone! We're getting settled in Southern California and preparing for rehab 2.0. Dillon's right arm is getting stronger and he's been able to use his computer. We are trying to raise $28,800 for an at-home FES bike, like the one in the picture, that he would use daily to increase muscle tone and reduce spasms. Also on the wish list: a mobile arm support $2500, a manual wheelchair $3500, a cough assist machine $4500, and a recovery based therapy program $100/hour. These are the items that will restore Dillon's health and improve the quality of his life. It is especially difficult to ask for money when folks have already been so generous, but we're finding this to be financially burdensome. Thank you for the ongoing prayerful intercession. Your generous and ongoing support is life changing and deeply appreciated. Much love, The Connolly family