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Children's Care Fund Testimonial

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Grady's Father, Jody

On July 26th, 2022, my wife Erica and I were at an event in Erie when we received “the call.” Our son Grady had been involved in a 4-wheeler accident and was being transported to UPMC Hamot.

Immediately, we rushed to meet Grady in the ER, carrying the weight of panic and uncertainty. When we first saw Grady in the ER, he was covered in dirt, laying on a gurney, shaking from shock, surrounded by nurses and physicians. In typical Grady fashion, he had a smirk on his face and said he had a little accident, not fully aware of the full extent of his injuries. Eventually, the doctors pulled me aside to go over the x-rays, while Erica stayed with Grady. The news was not good...Grady’s back was broken and his spinal cord was severed, leaving him paralyzed from about the waist down.

Late that same night, Grady was life flighted to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) where Dr. Abel and his team were waiting to perform an emergency spinal fusion and insert two rods. The surgery lasted over 8 hours: during that time, Erica and I were praying and waiting for the news. Needless to say, it was the longest 8 hours of our lives. Dr. Abel's surgery was a success, and the next steps began. Grady spent 5 days in the ICU at CHP, 2 days in a regular room, then was transferred to the rehab unit for the next 8 weeks for intense therapy and rehab. The first couple of days after the surgery, Grady was heavily sedated, closely monitored and in extreme pain. My wife and I were by Grady’s side, praying and trying to comfort him as best we could, all while mentally trying to process what was happening. Fortunately, Dr. Fred Mirarchi, Medical Director of the UPMC Hamot Emergency Department at the time, reached out the day after Grady’s accident to offer assistance and passed along our contact information to Boo Hagerty, President, Hamot Health Foundation. Boo contacted us right away informing us that a fund had been set up in our name with an initial donation and match by the Foundation that would cover our accommodations in Pittsburgh for the next 8 weeks. That was a huge burden lifted, which allowed us to focus on Grady’s recovery! Eight weeks came and went, some days quickly and others not; Grady made unbelievable progress with the assistance of his amazing team of doctors, therapists, nurses and endless support from family, friends and the Erie Community. Every day Grady was at CHRU he inspired us with his strength and determination.

Grady still has no function from the waist down, but has made tremendous strides over the past year; as you can imagine, his progress has not been without many highs and lows along the way. We trust and hope that there will be a cure for people with spinal cord injuries in Grady’s lifetime, but in the meantime, we are thankful for Grady’s life and the inspiration he continues to be to others. We are also extremely thankful to Hamot Health Foundation and their support as we navigate the new challenges and adjust to our new normal.

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