By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
---- — NEW PARIS — In an instance the life of a New Paris man changed. Family say Rich Borkholder has always been quick to help. Now it’s Borkholder who needs the help.
Two weeks ago, Borkholder was helping a friend cut down a tree for firewood when the tree fell on him causing an L1 compression fracture and damage to his spinal cord.
The accident has left him fighting to regain the use of his legs and family members are seeking help to pay for medical and living expenses, his son, Jason Borkholder said in a phone interview with The Goshen News Wednesday.
On Jan. 18., Rich was airlifted by Memorial Med Flight to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he underwent surgery for six hours and spent the next few days in intensive care. He was moved to the rehabilitation floor at the hospital Jan. 24 and started therapy on Monday.
“He’s continuing to recover and has made tremendous progress. The neurosurgeon told us he had a one percent chance to walk again but the prayers continue to be answered,” Jason said. “He was able to move his belly button (Wednesday) and a week ago the doctors said it would never happen again. This is controlled by nerves below L1 (the injury). He also has feeling down to his big toes in both legs.”
The younger Rich says his dad “would give the shirt off his back and be there for his family and community. He’s a hard worker and constantly doing for others. He’s a huge (Indiana University) IU basketball fan. He’s so motivated and this is our turn to support him.”
As a self-employed contractor and co-owner with Larry Cook of BC Builders Inc. in New Paris, the accident has left Rich unable to work and he won’t be able to bring in any income, his son added.
“We are blessed that he survived but we’ll need help. We don’t know if he’ll be able to walk. It’s a long process ahead for him,” Jason said.
He said his father is already looking ahead to returning home by working on redesigning the bathroom to make it wheel-chair accessible.
“We are still feeling blessed even though he’s paralyzed and hoping he can walk again,” Jason said. “If not, he’s still here with us. We were all beside ourselves not knowing if he would survive during the six-hour surgery and as soon as dad was out of surgery, everybody wanted to do something but didn’t know where to go or what to do.”
The family has set up a website at www.teamrich.us and a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/weareteamrich. There is also a Team Rich T-shirt fundraiser with more than 70 shirts sold so far.
Jason says the family including his mom, Nancy, and three siblings are thankful for the more than $5,000 in funds raised so far.
“I want my dad to focus on treatment and not worry about money. We are overwhelmed by the love and support.” Jason said. “The Facebook page is our hub for information for our dad. It’s going to be a long process but dad is strong and in great spirits. He’s determined to get back to 100 percent.”