ESSEX, Md. — Ben Paepcke, the Calvert Hall alum who was severely injured over the summer, came home for the first time in three months on Friday.
On July 4th, he dove into a wave in Ocean City and severely damaged his spine. He spent weeks at Shock Trauma and two months at a rehab facility in Colorado.
"Seeing him progress, even if it's slow progression, it's just amazing. It's truly amazing how far he's come," said Chad Patrick, Ben's best friend who kept him company out west. He said he was mainly there for emotional support but helped with some of his physical therapy.
"We saw a big difference in Ben with Chad out there," said Cody Soistman, another friend.
Ben and his family has tremendous support from the community, something they're extremely grateful for.
"You've gotta be able to give back. I'm blessed with everything I have and if I can help make it easier than I will," said Bill Hearn. He just met the Paepcke's a month ago. The original plan was to fix the back patio which turned into a ramp outside and changes inside to make their home handicap accessible, especially Ben's room and bathroom.
A complete transformation. Hearn was in the room when Ben saw the changes for the first time.
"He was overwhelmed with everything. He went back into his room with his buddies and his mom. He's just taking it all in. It’s gonna be tough for him coming home and figuring it all out," said Hearn.
An exciting step forward but a journey that's far from over.
"He’s gonna do outpatient physical therapy here and that will progress him even further so it’s not even close to being done," said Patrick. "Absolutely keep the prayers coming, everything helps."
"We're gonna have to keep pushing him, keep supporting him along the way. He’s gotta get used to a lot of things and we're ready to keep him going," Soistman said.
The next fundraiser is Saturday, October 5 from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. at Tavern on the Quarters. To help the family financially, click here for their Go Fund Me page.
There's another fundraiser on Saturday, November 23 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Lighthouse Gardens (Bowleys Quarters VFD).
Ben nor his parents wanted to be interviewed on camera, but they did want to express their gratitude for all the community support. Hearn read a list of names to thank for help with making the home handicap accessible.
Here's the list Hearn read:
- Belfast Valley Construction.
- Kevin Taylor at Taylor Made Construction.
- Donald and Temple from Hunt Valley Tile.
- Hank and Ernest who donated concrete.
- LeRoy Weinreid of Law Mechanic for plumbing and air conditioning.
- Barry Benjer gave stone and allowed them to dump on his property.
- 84 Lumber donated shoreline railes.
- Trex Decking donated.
- Jimmy Williams did the inside tile.
- Home Depot donated.
- William from concrete works donated labor for finishing.
- Beth Wheeler from Project B.I.G (Believe in Goodness) helped get donations.
- Hughes Mechanical.
- Rolland Harvey from Natural Concerns.
- Zack Jordan was the electrician.