Tribune-Courier News Reporter
Even in the face of unthinkable tragedy, one Marshall County family is counting their blessings this Christmas season.
In February the life of Johnie Champion and his family changed dramatically when he suffered a life-changing C-3 spinal cord injury following a devastating automobile accident.
Although the accident took much away from the Champion family, his wife Lisa said that through weeks of therapy and the generosity of the community, her husband is doing much better than originally expected. She said they have a supportive community and church family to thank for their ability to move forward with a much different life than they had planned.
“When he had the accident doctors were very negative and told us there were things he would never do again, but he’s already done those things,” she said. “He’s talking and breathing on his own and he can eat without the use of a feeding tube. We’re thankful for those miracles.”
Doctors were negative, she said, because Johnie’s accident resulted in the loss of motor function in his arms and legs.
Lisa said her husband’s recovery was due to the outpouring of help from the community, but also gives thanks to God, which she said she and her husband have relied on heavily to help them through the tragedy. The Champions attend First Baptist Church in Benton, and Lisa said her church family has been more supportive than she ever thought possible.
“In spite of the many struggles he faces, Johnie remains hopeful that he will be able to return to a productive life in the community through the support of family and friends,” she said. “The lifestyle we had is over and we can’t dwell on the past and what was, but we have started anew and have a greater appreciation for the things we do have in our lives.”
Lisa said she and Johnie have always been spiritual, but following the accident their relationship with God has grown even stronger.
Because of the help from the community – including a T-shirt sale, two barbecue sales, a 5K charity event and a gun raffle, Johnie has access to several pieces of equipment he needed to improve the quality of his life including a modified wheelchair, which works over several types of terrain. Lisa said that was a must for her husband, who once spent his time off work hunting and fishing.
The wheelchair is sip-and-puff operated, Lisa said, which means Johnie can operate it himself.
“He can drive his chair and operate the television with it too,” she said.
The Champion family continues to make alterations to their home to enhance Johnie’s quality of life, including access to rooms that make it difficult for him to maneuver.
In January, after all the Christmas events are over, the family will use some of the donations from the fundraisers to do a bathroom remodel, making it more wheelchair accessible.
To assist with uninsured expenses, a fundraising campaign in Johnie’s honor has been established with HelpHOPELive.
Lisa said the charity has been a blessing to the Champion family and asks that people consider making a donation. For more information, contact HelpHOPELive at 800-642-8399.