Four months ago, Richard Bay of Kimberley was lying in a Honduran hospital with a shattered leg, unsure how he was going to pay his medical bills and return to Canada.
Today, he is home, in physical therapy and well on his way to being back on his feet, both physically and financially.
And he owes all that, he says, to the people of Kimberley, and others further afield, who came to his aid.
“I just want to say how thankful I am for all the support,” he said. “Everyone was so willing to help me. It means a lot.”
Richard had been building a house in Honduras with a buddy last spring, and his health insurance had expired. His fault, he fully admits. He just got busy and forgot to renew it.
Then on May 27, while riding a motorbike, he was hit by a bus. He had four surgeries in Honduras to repair his shattered tibia, fibula and femur.
Medical bills began to mount up and his family began an online fundraising campaign to bring him back to Canada and help with his medical costs. Sister Lisa spoke to the Daily Bulletin. From there the story was picked up by Global TV and the fundraising gathered steam. The publicity brought Richard’s story to the attention of Trinity Air, which flew him back to Canada at a reduced rate.
He spent a further three weeks in hospital in Calgary for more surgeries before arriving home in Kimberley in July.
Total expenses mounted to about $70,000, but through fundraising close to $40,000 was raised.
“It’s a huge burden off my shoulders,” Richard said. “I can concentrate on getting better, I don’t have to think about being buried in debt. $30,000 I can handle.”
Richard is doing physical therapy now, and feels he is making great progress.
“I’m ready to rock and roll about five days a week,” he said. “I can’t work yet. I don’t know if I can ever go back to carpentry, because it’s so physical. So I’m researching opportunities, maybe going more into the management side of carpentry; maybe I’ll go back to school.”
Richard says his doctors say he should be off crutches by Christmas.
“That’s what they said initially — it’s such a complex injury, there was so much muscle loss. But I’m working hard on physio in the pool. I say I’ll beat Christmas.”
Something like this forces you to reevaluate every part of your life, Richard says.
He is totally committed to his recovery, and has quit smoking and drinking to give himself every possible chance.
What he has also realized is that he comes from a wonderful, generous home town.
“I really found out what was important. My friends, my sister, my mom and dad, cousins, just stepping up. And so much support from people I don’t even know.”
The support continues now and Richard tries to say thank you to as many people as possible every day.
“I talk to as many people as I can, on the street, in the restaurants, my home care nurses, physical therapists. I tell everyone I see that I am thankful for everything. I want to get that out to as many people as possible.”
Fully dedicated to his recovery, Richard was on his way to Vernon this week to check out an anti-gravity treadmill that he thought might assist in speeding things along.
He dropped into the Bulletin office Wednesday to get that message of thanks out to Kimberley before he left town.
“When I was in the hospital, especially the first few days, I was in shock, scared, but then I started seeing the donations coming online and all the comments, the messages. It was so easy to stay positive with that kind of support. So thank you.”