Editor's Note: The following was submitted to Patch by Melissa Varnavas.
The first annual “Jamfest for Eddy" in August 2011 raised nearly $10,000; money that enabled the Pilicy Family of Rowley to stave off foreclosure, enough to keep 39-year-old Eddy Pilicy in therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston and engaged in Journey Forward, a Canton-based non-profit which aids those with spinal cord injuries.
The family took a moment to catch its collective breath.
It had been nearly five months since the massive limb of a Maple tree turned the wrong way, capturing the Rowley resident, a landscaper with more than 15 years of experience, and smashing him against what remained of the tree’s trunk paralyzing him from the waist down.
That was April 2011, and emergency officials flew Pilicy to Boston, where doctors fused his spinal cord from T-9 to T-12.
In a September 2011 email to family and friends, Pilicy’s wife Katie thanked supporters like Solace for Stephanie, a Rowley non-profit which donated $500 in gift cards for groceries and Mehaffy Farm, also of Rowley, which provided the family with a free farm share. In the email, she thanked first annual “Jamfest” attendees and volunteers and described her husband’s progress.
Pilicy was getting used to life without his legs but was determined to regain modest function and worked tireless toward that goal, Katie Pilicy explained. He started taking the train into Boston for his therapy sessions while his wife, a Marblehead science teacher, and children Terran, Dakota, and Eddy Jr., headed off to school. He started taking driving lessons in a modified vehicle and learned how to “ride” a modified bike.
He was looking forward to a group excursion with spinal cord injury survivors, a bike ride on New Hampshire’s Kangamangus highway the weekend of September 9-11. His wife was looking forward to a nap.
She didn’t get one.
During the ride, Pilicy was in a head-on collision with a motorcycle. He was thrown from the bike, damaged his spleen, punctured his bicep, and fractured multiple bones in his arms. He was evacuated to Maine Medical Center where he spent several weeks enduring multiple surgeries.
It was a staggering setback for the family, Katie Pilicy said.
“It messed with my mind to be honest,” said Pilicy. “It was the worst thing to ever happen to me after the worst thing that had ever happened to me.”
Luckily, surgeons were able restructure his arm and with nearly a year’s worth of hard work and therapy Pilicy is slowly making progress toward regaining some mobility in his legs, walking with braces, even driving.
A video of one of his therapy sessions can be found on Journey Forward’s Facebook page.
“The focus was to keep my home and keep Eddy in therapy,” said Katie Pilicy. “Everyone’s generosity enabled us to do that. I don’t know what we would have done without that help.”
The second annual “Jamfest” hopes to raise enough funds to help the Pilicy family offset the continued costs for that therapy. Additional donations, including money raised from a Marblehead Veterans Middle School talent show at the end of the school year, have helped the family pave their driveway so Pilicy could move freely about the property in his wheelchair and have funded a handicap accessible ramp.
The family hopes to someday afford additional renovations to their home perhaps even to add a bedroom to the main floor of the house.
“We transformed our dining room into our bedroom after the accident,” said Katie Pilicy. “It would be nice to one day have a room of our own again someday.”
The Second Annual Jamfest for Eddy will be held Saturday, Aug. 25, 4-9 p.m., at the Ipswich Masonic Lodge, 70 Topsfield Rd., in Ipswich. Featured bands include Playing for Crickets, The Spirithouse Band, and Dickie Krauss. The event also features buffet, raffle, silent auction, and children’s events.