BELLEVUE — It’s the Christmas Miracle that continues.
Seventeen-year-old Dakota Schaffer who was in a serious car accident on Dec. 21 that took the life of his friend, Garrett Holmes, 16, is making a miraculous recovery at the University of Toledo Medical Center.
A few weeks ago, Dakota couldn’t even open his eyes on his own. Now, he is walking, talking, eating Taco Bell, and giving his younger brother a hard time, like teenage boys do.
This Tuesday, Burger King, where Dakota worked, is holding a fundraiser for both the Schaffer and Holmes families, to help them through their painful ordeals. Twenty percent of all sales from 4 to 8 p.m. will be donated to the families.
Dakota’s father, Paul Schaffer, Jr., who recently just returned to work after weeks at his son’s bedside monitoring and encouraging his progress, said is son is progressing well.
“He’s is going on his second week of therapy,” Paul said. “He’ll remain at UTMC for at least another week, depending on his progress, but other than physical therapy, he is pretty much back.”
Dakota’s memory is coming back slowly, Paul said.
“A lot of things are still coming to him,” he said. “He remembers being at homecoming with his girlfriend and that was two months ago. He knows he was in an accident. Tonight he found out who he was with. He knows they had to cut him out of the vehicle. We told him the extent of his injuries and what he was up against when he got here, that he had less than a 50 percent of living when he got to the hospital.”
What Dakota still doesn’t know is that his friend died.
“He asks a little bit more everyday,” Paul said. “He knows he was with Garrett and that he was in Garrett’s car, but that’s all he knows right now.”
Paul said the hospital staff has been amazing - and amazed - at Dakota’s progress.
“The hospital wants to kind of use Dakota as proof of what the hospital is capable of,” Paul said. “They are calling him a Christmas miracle for the whole hospital.”
He said he has the deepest gratitude for the staff at UTMC.
“The doctors, the nurses, the staff, you couldn’t ask for a better group of people to trust your son’s life with,” he said.
And the support from those he knows - and those he doesn’t - continues.
“I’d like to thank Pain and Pleasure Tattoo, Keith Whaley, Ruthanne Didion Manders, our families, friends, Dakota’s friend, and all the people near and far who have sent prayers and support to our family,” he said. “I have had people in Utah that I’ve never even met contact me and offer prayers and support. I am kind of without words right now. This gives you a whole new perspective. You look at all the ugly that is in the world and then you realize there are people who still have good hearts. It’s made me think about life in a whole new way. It’s unreal that people you don’t even know would come together and offer support or a prayer. It’s moving.”
Christine Steele can be reached at 419-483-4190 ext. 213. Follow us on Twitter @BellevueGazette.