If you're thinking of taking a morning hike or trail walk Sunday morning, consider taking a walk for Hailey native and 1994 Wood River High School grad Jake Jefferson.
Friends and high school classmates are organizing a benefit hike for Jefferson starting at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 12 at Boundary picnic area east of Sun Valley. Route is Proctor Loop near Trail Creek Cabin and Proctor Mountain.
Jefferson, 36, would like to join you, but the son of Greg and Sherri Jefferson of Hailey is having a tough time walking.
In fact, he is relearning how to walk after suffering serious lower back spinal injuries in a Memorial Day weekend speed flying accident near Bellevue.
Benefit organizers Rhiana Macaya Mitchell and Lori Burks, high school classmates of Jefferson, are asking $20 donations with a chance to contribute more if you solicit sponsors. Donations go to Jake's rehabilitation and recovery from his injuries.
Find more details about the benefit hike by registering online at active.com, or come to Boundary picnic area at 10 a.m. Sunday for day-of-event sign-up and payment of donations.
According to Burks, Jefferson was injured at Bellevue's China Rock on Memorial Day while speed flying—"similar to paragliding, but faster," she said. "He didn't have a straight-on landing," she added.
Jefferson was life-flighted to St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise where he spent nearly two months, finally coming home to Hailey over the July 28-29 weekend. Initially, family and friends feared he would never walk again. For a week he was paralyzed, Burks said.
He underwent surgery for a broken L2 lumbar vertebrae in his lower back. Doctors inserted two nine-inch rods to stabilize his back. Spinal injuries of the lumbar vertebrae—the five largest and strongest vertebrae comprising the lower back—can occur from falls from height. Jefferson also tore his ACL knee ligament.
He is now confined to a wheelchair, but is walking with the assistance of a walker. He spends three days a week in physical therapy at Elks Rehabilitation in Hailey.
Jake is currently living with his 96-year-old grandfather Ray Jefferson, whose house is adjacent to the house of Jake's parents' Greg and Sherri Jefferson. Ray Jefferson lost his wife of 65 years, Mary Jefferson, 96, this past March.
Mary Jefferson, Jake's grandmother, was one of Sun Valley's early Union Pacific employees—helping to establish the reservation department of the new resort and serving as private secretary to former owner Bill Janss among other positions. She also helped organize the Presbyterian Church and Ketchum library.
Sherri Jefferson said, "We've had so much support from the community. In the first 24 hours after Jake's accident we had over 1,000 messages on a Facebook site, prayers that gave us strength."
Another benefit for Jake Jefferson, this one organized by his Wood River classmates Deida Runswick and Lori Hansen, will be held at Bellevue Memorial Park Saturday, Sept. 22 from 4-8 p.m. The event will feature a barbecue and raffle along with live music.
For more details call Lori Burks at 309-0888.