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Jake Thomas comes home to his caring community

Bracebridge father paralyzed in snowmobile crash
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Jake Thomas remembers every detail of the moment when he became a paraplegic.

It was Jan. 7, 2017 when Thomas and his friends had just started to enjoy a day on their snowmobiles in Bracebridge.

He turned a corner on his sled, within seconds he crashed and his life changed. 

Thomas severed his spinal cord which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He also suffered a dislocated hip and seven broken ribs. 

"The entire thing. I was conscious the whole way through," said Thomas, 44. "It was a fluke snowmobile accident that resulted in me getting ejected and run over by my snowmobile"

After spending two months in a Toronto hospital, Thomas recently returned to his newly renovated Bracebridge home and a community he says has extended incredible support to his family.   

He and his wife Jenny are well-known in Muskoka and involved in sports with their four children aged 15, 13, 10 and 7.

The active dad is a filmmaker, was a long-time producer for Cottage Life Television and with his wife owns and operates three Applause toy stores in Bracebridge, Huntsville and Gravenhurst.

Thomas, the son of veteran, award-winning singer-songwriter Ian Thomas, is also a hockey and soccer coach and sits on several boards of directors in the community.

He is astounded at how the 'ripples of this injury' reached the far corners of the earth.  

But it's the outpouring of help close to home that has touched him so deeply.

"The community has just jumped right on board. My entire street has been feeding our family for the last two months. Everybody's got a meal plan system in place. Certain days of the week people are responsible for bringing certain things over. I couldn't be more blown away by this amazing town."

Thomas's house needed to be renovated for him to return home. Narrow doorways had to be widened. The couple decided to install a lift mechanism to enable Thomas to access their walkout basement.

"We just converted a couple of rooms into wheelchair accessible living. All sorts of various trades were providing their services for nothing. Suppliers in town for flooring and trim were supplying us everything free of charge. It was just incredible.  As more people got wind of it more people offered to help. By the time I came home this whole basement renovation thing was completed by members of the community. Again it's just amazing."

A GoFundMe account set up to help the family describes the popular and well-known Thomas as always having a huge involvement in many outdoor sports, including mountain biking, wakeboarding, hockey, downhill skiing and snowmobiling. 

"While he is extremely passionate about athletics, at the end of the day he is a 'drop what you’re doing, roll up your sleeves and help a neighbour out’ type of guy," the account reads.  

His community has reciprocated in his family's time of need. 

"I'm still in a lot of pain. You think that when you break your back and you lose the use of your legs that that's just it and in many situations it is. However the type of injury mine is I'm in non-stop pain," explains Thomas.

The money raised by the online campaign will be used to help retrofit the family home and vehicles and to purchase the necessary mobility devices. 

He encourages people to live life without any regrets but be a part of the community because it's 'the right thing to do.'

"You never know when you're going to need your community," he said. 

"This town and the people in it have just been absolutely amazing and continue to be. I was in the hospital for two months and couldn't do anything but to know that the entire community has got my back was really heart-warming."

The target fundraising goal is $500,000 and nearly $200,000 has been raised to date.

For more information go to Jake Thomas's Road to Recovery by Cat Brown - GoFundMe

 



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Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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