- Fox 6 News report on Kerwin throwing the first pitch at Mitchell Park
After Pilgrim Park eighth grader Kerwin Hackett hit his helmeted head on a ski run in South Korea during winter break and was rushed to a hospital with a severe brain injury, his friends were pulled out out of class and told that doctors said he probably wouldn't make it.
About 90 percent of people with severe diffuse axonal injuries never regain consciousness, a doctor told Kerwin's father, Nathan, at the hospital on Dec. 30, handing him the injury's Wikipedia definition.
But less than two months after the accident, Kerwin was a medical miracle, waiting at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for his first visitors: his best friend since kindergarten, Nick Davies, and Nick's mother Sara and sister Lauren.
"When we got off the elevator Kerwin was there and he looked at Nick and he said, 'There's my friend Nick, there's Mrs. Davies, and there's Lauren,'" Sara said. "From that moment on, my son was determined to do everything he could to help Kerwin."
Kerwin and his family are now hoping for a complete or near-full recovery. But they face more uncertainty with the financial burden of the hospital time and physical therapy. Kerwin's flight home from South Korea, for example, cost $30,000.
"As we look to the future the only thing that obstructs our view is the mountain of debt we have amassed," Nathan Hackett wrote in an announcement.
Saturday Fundraiser Will Benefit Family
After their visit with Kerwin, the Davies family quickly got to work planning a benefit for the family.
"I needed to do this for my son," Sara said. "He couldn't figure out why this had happened to Kerwin. He didn't want to eat, he didn't want to go to school. So we decided to focus on making this benefit happen."
The Kerwin Hackett Benefit that several family friends have planned for this Saturday will start with a car wash at 10 a.m. and end with an evening dance and silent auction at .
Sara said they already have more than 30 gift cards for a raffle, and more than 70 items to silent auction, including a week timeshare anywhere in the world, Packers tickets, and a two-night stay for 12 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
"If I can help them put a little dent in the financial burden this family has, I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Sara said.
Kerwin himself will be at the event Saturday. Though he could continue to recover cognitively for another two years or more, his family and friends have already noted significant strides.
"He can walk, talk, have a conversation with you," Sara said. "He's still working on his short-term memory, but he can tell you everybody that's on the Milwaukee Brewers."
Sara said she still sees in Kerwin the qualities that have made him stand out since her son met him in kindergarten.
'Always has a smile on his face'
"I've always called him my second son," Sara said. "He is the kid that always has a smile on his face, always. He is an outgoing, good-natured kid and has a zest for life."
In addition to helping the family, Sara hopes the benefit will serve as a sort of civics lesson to her kids and the community.
"During these difficult times, you’re seeing people come together," Sara said. "This is what our kids need to know about, how we can help one another."
The schedule of events Saturday is as follows:
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Free car wash (with optional donation), by Pilgrim Park eighth graders.
- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Pick-up for Schwan's fundraiser. You can place an order on schwansfundraising.com with the code 39234.
- 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Dance and silent auction. There will be a DJ, food, refreshments and face painting.
- 7 p.m.: Nathan Hackett speaks.
Anyone who would like to help with the event can contact Sara at email@example.com.