JOHNSBURG – Chris Michels used to run half marathons and spend days on his dirt bike.
Now the 30-year-old Johnsburg native is fighting to walk again.
Michels became paralyzed after he suffered a major spinal injury during a wipeout on his dirt bike June 6 in Woodstock. He was airlifted to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where he underwent emergency spinal surgery and was put in a medically induced coma.
His injuries included fractured vertebrae, a dislocated spinal column, fractures to his clavicle and ribs and bruised lungs. Now as Michels begins his long road to recovery, his family is asking for help.
A fundraiser and raffle will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Sunnyside Park 1515 Channel Beach Ave., Johnsburg. For those who cannot make it but want to donate, an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/team-michels/192586 is accepting donations and has already received more than $5,200."
Doctors said he will be able to live a fully independent life, but what that exactly means I don't know," said Florence Vicicondi, Michels' mother. "It's going to take a long time."
Michels is now going through intense physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and is determined to walk again, Vicicondi said.
She said early support has been tremendous as complete strangers from Johnsburg have sent checks to help with the costs. Vicicondi said she hopes to see the support continue at Saturday's event where it will cost $15 for adults and $5 for children to enjoy a day of food and fun at the park.
Vicicondi remains hopeful her son will eventually be able to walk through the front door of his Antioch home where he lives with his wife.
"He told me he is going to walk and that his new goal," she said. "Mentally, he remains very strong and very positive."