Those tuning in this Sunday to the Cardinal Hill Telethon on TV might just see a familiar face or two — and will definitely see a pair of inspiring local stories.
The 42nd-annual televised fundraiser, held to benefit the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington, Ky., will air live from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on WKYT Channel 27, hosted by Sam Dick and Amber Philpott.
Two Pulaski Countians whose stories will be featured on the broadcast are Chris Campbell and Makayla Loveless. Both young people who each found themselves involved in terrible accidents, Campbell and Loveless alike have worked incredibly hard to reach the points where they are now — outside of the hospital’s care and living life again.
Incidentally, a key figure at Cardinal Hill who helped spot the stories and bring them to attention is also from Pulaski. Samantha Richardson — née Rogers — is a 1998 graduate of Somerset High School who now serves as marketing coordinator for Cardinal Hill, helping spearhead their public relations efforts and working hand-in-hand with fundraising.
“It’s nice to see local people do really well like Chris and Makayla have done,” said Richardson, now working her seventh Cardinal Hill telethon. “Typically, throughout the year, the staff alerts us to patients who have done really well. (The staff sees) them from day 1 until the time they’re discharged. ... It’s nice to see them take what they learned at Cardinal Hill and incorporate it into everyday life.”
Having Pulaski Countians is also an appeal for Cardinal Hill, which seeks to reach an audience throughout a wide swath of the Bluegrass State.
“We like to show people who aren’t from Lexington (on the telethon) because it really shows the demographics of the people we treat,” said Richardson. “People from Somerset, London, Casey County come to Cardinal Hill to get care.”
Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital bills themselves as providing “post acute inpatient physical rehabilitation services for people of all ages.” Among the conditions they help patients recover from, on both inpatient and outpatient levels, are spinal cord injuries, brain damage, strokes, amputations, joint replacement, and various neurological con-ditions. The hospital treats over 9,000 patients per year, according to their website,
Campbell’s life changed forever on August 18, 2009. He and fellow Southwestern High School senior Raina Trimble were driving to school when the vehicle they were in lost control on Thurman Road and landed upside down in a nearby garage. Trimble’s injuries were severe, but not like her friend’s — Campbell suffered injuries to his brain and spinal cord, and severe lung trauma. The months following the accident were a struggle just to maintain memories and motor functions, but his ability to walk was lost.
Now? Campbell is chasing “adrenaline rushes” — a little differently than most, but not altogether dissimilar from any other young man in his prime.
“He’s very athletic; he likes anything outdoors,” said Richardson, who noted that Campbell recently went “adaptive skiing” — that is, downhill skiing with special equipment adapted for those paralyzed from the waist down like Campbell.
“They can ski down the mountain like any able-bodied person would done,” said Richardson. “Everyone was talking about how good Chris was. He’s said, ‘Just because I’m in a (wheelchair) doesn’t mean I can’t do things that give me an adrenaline rush.”
Loveless arrived at Cardinal Hill last year following a serious accident on a four-wheeler, just days after turning 16. She had two broken vertebrae, a broken jaw, crushed wrist and most devastating, a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) — one of the most common types of brain injuries.
“DAI patients who regain consciousness often remain significantly impaired, but Makayla had other plans,” shared Cardinal Hill fundraising coordinator Courtney Feltner. “She set her sights on dancing again and regaining a normal teenage life — something our therapists at Cardinal Hill were determined to make happen for her also.”
After three days a week of intense physical, occupational and speech therapy on an outpatient basis, following her stay at the hospital, Loveless is now about eight months out of the program and “is thriving,” according to Feltner — and yes, dancing once again.
The telethon typically raises around $300,000 for Cardinal Hill’s mission, treating patients of all ages, though Richardson noted that number has sometimes dipped in a down economy. That said, “We’ve been blessed that it’s stayed consistent,” she said, noting that the swoons are generally balanced by stronger years.
Phone numbers will be made available all day on the telethon for people to call and make donations to help others like Campbell and Loveless make the long journey back from a seemingly dark place. Those interested can also donate online at www.cardinalhill.org. Funds raised will be used to provide programs and direct patient care. The hospital’s goal is to achieve maximum independence for each patient.
To learn more about the 42nd-annual Cardinal Hill Telethon Celebration or how to donate, call 859-254-5701, ext. 5602.