In a split second, a life can change forever. On July 15, lifelong East Lyme resident Glenn Landers was leaving a family picnic when he noticed the kids bouncing on a trampoline.
"Glenn, just being the fun-loving guy he is, decided to show the kids how to do a forward flip and he didn’t make it all the way around," said his cousin Tom Yuhas.
Although he landed on the trampoline, Landers snapped the vertebrae in his neck, which stopped his breathing. Luckily, his longtime girlfriend Patty Fraser's sisters, Nancy Shepard of Waterford, who is an RN, and Cheryl Fitzhugh, who is also in the medical field, were around and able to do CPR to resuscitate him until the ambulance arrived.
"He did regain consciousness that same night and was able to nod a little bit to us, yes or no, which was a good sign," said Yuhas. "He’s doing OK. He’s paralyzed from the neck down and breathing on a ventilator. Mentally he’s all there. He is able to talk—the first week or so he couldn’t talk."
Until today, Landers had been in the Yale-New Haven Hospital's Intensive Care Unit. The family did a lot of research, Yuhas said, and after talking extensively with the Christopher Reeve Foundation determined that Landers would have the best chance for recovery at the Shepherd Clinic in Atlanta, Ga.
"They have a pretty extensive therapy and rehabilitation program," said Yuhas. "Currently, he can’t move from neck down and can’t breathe on his own."
His family is hopeful that the Shepherd Clinic may be able to provide Landers with a Diaphragm Pacing System, an implanted medical device consisting of four electrodes that stimulate the muscles in the chest, which would enable him to breathe without a respirator at least some of the time.
"I know we’re all praying for that miracle," said Yuhas. "He’s got a tremendous attitude and is ready to face this head on. I’ve never once heard him say anything negative. I’ve never seen him shed a tear. Deep down inside he’s probably quite scared but his attitude is unbelievable. It’s very inspiring to see him and to talk to him."
As a self-employed electrician, Landers has health insurance but his family is not sure how much of what promises to be a very long recovery and rehabilitation period will be covered. Many of his friends in the contracting business have stepped forward to offer their help in making his home on the Niantic River handicapped-accessible.
To raise money to help cover medical expenses, Yuhas has organized a golf tournament for August 18 at Cedar Ridge Golf Course in East Lyme. Landers was an avid golfer and was a member of the club's Thursday night golf league.
"The golf was the easiest thing to kick off first," said Yuhas. "It’s going to be $75 a person. We’ll be feeding everybody with hamburgers and hot dogs, and there'll be raffle items and some different contests."
People who want to sign up should see the golf pro at Cedar Ridge soon but there are also sponsorship opportunities for $75 for each hole. The family has set up an online fund for donations and is planning another fundraiser in September.
"It’s definitely a tragic story but Glenn's not giving up so we're not giving up," said Yuhas. "He understands what he’s up against and he’s going for it and his family and his friends are behind him 110 percent."
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