The community is coming to aid of Zach Porio, who was injured in a dirt bike crash, his fiancée Samantha Ritcher and their 6-year-old daughter.
ADAMS, Mass. — The community is rallying to the aid of a 23-year-old man who was paralyzed from the chest down in a dirt bike accident last month.
Zack Porio was leaving his yard to go on a ride with a friend on March 17 when he hit a rock, flipped the bike and broke his neck.
He was rushed to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, then taken by medical helicopter to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. After spinal surgery the next morning, doctors determined that he would be paralyzed from the chest down.
"The doctors said he was actually going too slow. He was only going 5, 10 miles per hour," said Paula Filiault Juras, the mother of Porio's fiancée, who is organizing a series of fundraisers in his name. "The first week he had a collapsed lung and developed pneumonia."
Porio, a 2006 graduate of McCann Technical School, stayed at Baystate for more than two weeks and was transferred on Wednesday to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Juras said he is expected to stay there for three to four months.
"He's actually in really, really good spirits," Juras said on Thursday. "He's got a real positive attitude."
His fiancée, Samantha Ritcher, has been at his side since the accident while Juras cares for the couple's 6-year-old daughter.
Porio has been on a ventilator and unable to talk but he was recently given an iPad on which he communicates with his family. Ritcher has only returned home since the accident two times, Juras said.
Meanwhile, there are looming medical expenses, bills piling up and a future need to modify their home to become handicapped accessible. Juras headed an effort for a benefit spaghetti dinner to help out. But even before she could get that organized, friends jumped in and started their own fundraisers.
On April 1, there was a craft fair at the Bounti-Fare Restaurant that raised about $600, Juras said, and a friend who works at BFAIR's Redemption Center in North Adams started an account for a can and bottle drive that has already raised about $800.
Fliers for the fundraisers as well as donation cans have circulated fast around town. Teachers at C.T. Plunkett Elementary School and the middle school made copies and passed them out to all of the students and they are circulating on Facebook.
"He would literally drop everything to help someone else, so this is them giving back," Juras said. "Right now, we're just trying to keep the mortgage paid and the utilities on."
Porio will unlikely be able to return to his job as a mechanic at D.R. Billings Inc. in Lanesborough and Ritcher works only part time while she attends the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
The main push for the bottle drive will be this Saturday, April 7, and an account has already been set up at the Redemption Center. Friends and family have been dropping off bottles to Juras' house and she's been making frequent trips to cash them in.
The spaghetti dinner is scheduled for Sunday, April 22, at the Polish National Alliance on Victory Street. The Facebook event listing already has more than 200 people attending and more than 50 businesses have donated prizes for a Chinese auction. Many other businesses have donated cash to a bank account at Greylock Federal Credit Union established for Porio.
Additionally, a motorcycle run and poker tournament is planned for June 10.
"We're just trying to do a couple different things to reach different people," Juras said.
In the meantime, Porio is in Boston working hard to defy the odds and walk again.
"They've said it is permanent but he's really strong and determined. So our thoughts are that doctors have been wrong before," Juras said. "He's going to walk."
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I just "Inadvertently pushed some of the upper buttons (interesting, awesome, ridiculous, funny, etc), and did NOT realize this was keeping a tally. I PERSONALLY donot find ANYTHING funny or ridiclous about such a sad, tragic story. This young man is amazing, and anyone who knows him know he would go out of his way to help even a stranger. So, I'm hoping those numbers represent people like "me" who hit it in error.