Teresa Hukari benefit May 12 at Crag Rat Hut

By RAELYNN RICARTE

Hood River News

May 6, 2006

A fund-raising benefit for Teresa Hukari, a Hood River native now living in Ketchum, Idaho, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a freak skiing accident in March, will be held Friday, May 12 at the Crag Rat Hut in Pine Grove.

Beginning at 4 p.m. there will be live and silent auctions, a raffle, music by Tilly Jam, and food and beverages served by the Divot’s at Indian Creek Golf crew. Tickets for prize drawings are available at Waucoma, Divot’s, and other locations around town.

Hukari suffered a severe high C-spine injury while skiing in Sun Valley March 4. She spent seven weeks in the intensive care unit and neuro-science wing of a Boise hospital, and is currently at Craig Hospital in Denver.

Having broken five of seven vertebrae in her neck and dislocating one of the remaining two, it was the most extensive injury any of her doctors had ever seen. Her rehabilitation is only just now getting started, but there have already been a few hopeful signs.

She has had some limited movement of her right arm above the wrist for a number of weeks, but only recently has begun to regain very slight movement of her left arm. Her breathing continues to improve at an accelerated pace, and she should be off the ventilator completely very soon.

While she has not regained any movement below mid-chest level, there has been some return of pressure sensation in her legs and feet.

She has recently started traveling up the hallways in a powered chair, even driving herself outside for some much-needed fresh air several times.

The costs associated with SCI (spinal cord injury) are staggering and ongoing. Her stay at Craig is expected to be four months, but that is only the initial step.

In addition to the obvious medical, equipment and specialized transportation needs, there are outpatient therapies, basic home living modifications, alternative therapies, medications, and more.

The following is a quote from a letter Teresa dictated to the local paper in her adopted home town of Ketchum, but she says the sentiment translates to her original hometown of Hood River:

“Now I learn from my hospital bed that there is an incredible groundswell of support from the community, and I just don’t know what to say. It is one of the virtues of living in a tightly knit community. I never imagined I would have the need to draw on your support or would be able to do so to this extent.

“I want everyone who has expressed their concern, care, love and support to know that it is reaching me, I need it and I’m grateful for it. All of you should be aware of what a special place that you live,” she said in the letter.

Teresa’s family adds, “T’s tool case is full; strength inside and out; motivation galore; and a sense of humor that never left and won’t quit. Her ultimate outcome can’t be known at this early stage, but she has been on the receiving end of astounding support from her friends, co-workers and community and even total strangers.

“She’s being tested to her limits, but has already come farther and faster than her doctors expected she would. We know she’s not done yet.”

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To keep people posted on Teresa’s condition, the family has set up a Web site, with blog entries keeping everyone up to date on news about Teresa, her recovery and fund-raising activities:

http://web.mac.com/bhukari.

The Web site also has links to resources to help those with spinal cord injuries, Teresa’s address at the hospital (keep sending cards and e-mail, the family says) and the address of Smith Optics, her employer, to make direct donations to a nonprofit fund to aid in her recovery.

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