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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Sawyer Bartell's life changed forever while on vacation in Colorado.
For months, the same questions have gone through Bartell’s mind.
"You kind of wonder why it’s happening and if I’ll be able to handle this. How am I going to be able to take care of my family? Get back to work?" Bartell said.
In an instant, this father of two went from vacationing by a pool to paralyzed from the chest down.
"One quick decision with my accident changed the rest of your life," Bartell said.
Bartell has been receiving treatment at Craig Hospital all summer.
"It’s been a real test. This has been a real, I guess you could say, a real low point since we’ve been together," Bartell said.
His wife Sara remained by his side nearly every step of the way.
"It’s been everything having her out here with me," Bartell said.
But their family has been incomplete for much of their time in Colorado as their little girls — 2-year-old Jenna and 8-month-old Ila — have remained in Florida with family while their dad recovers.
"We’ve got a big long list of things to do and that part is kind of intimidating but most importantly, I’m looking forward to being with my girls again. I think that’s going to help a lot for my mood," Bartell said.
Three weeks ago, Bartell got the visit he needed from his little girls.
"I definitely teared up a little bit when I saw them. I was just really happy that Jenna was receptive to seeing me," Bartell said. "I was really nervous about seeing the girls. I didn’t know if they were going to be brave. Seeing the chair, seeing me with a neck brace."
That same week, with the help of your Denver7 Gives donations, we were able to help the family take of their girls with a $4,000 donation.
"We’ve had a lot of support from Denver7 family and we’re grateful for that," Bartell said.
The girls went back home the day after our story aired while Bartell and his wife stayed back. But the treatment appears to be working.
"I think when the injury happened and (I) only had some arm movement and I couldn’t really flex my wrists or anything — but I’m getting a lot stronger. Doing physical therapy every day here. I’m getting some wrist movement back," Bartell said.
Bartell still has no movement in his fingers or below the waist but he’s prepared for the challenge.
"My mind is just definitely I’ll be able to get home and stay strong, because we have girls at home and we don’t really have the option of crumbling or laying down," Bartell said.
As he continues to fight, the bills keep fighting back.
"There’s a lot of big ticket items that we still need to buy as far as a special bed I need to sleep in at night, transportation as far as buying a wheelchair accessible van, and then your mind kind of goes towards paying the mortgage and all of that stuff. How are we going to make up for that?" Bartell said.
Thanks to viewer donations to Denver7 Gives, the family received nearly $6,000 to pay their mortgage for three months. Now, the family will head home at the end of August with one less burden to worry about.