Hi! Thanks for stopping by my page. My name is Jesse VanOsdol, and I’d like to tell you a little about my story and why I am hiking across America to raise money for the Burn Unit at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
Bonfire Gone Bad
In June 2010 I was burned on 15 percent of my body in a bonfire while attempting to light a large and damp burn pile, which towered over my head. Being that it was damp, I unwisely stepped onto a lower part of the burn pile to pour gasoline on top. You should never, ever try to light a fire with gas, as I found out when a hidden ember ignited the explosive burn pile. All at once I felt intense heat and fear as flames shriveled up my legs and torched my left arm.
I ran straight to a dive and a roll as I heard my friend Ben Lewis yelling “STOP, DROP and ROLL!” God’s earth quenched my fiery feet: with adrenaline pumping I stood to find all my skin on my left arm from elbow to fingers hanging about about six inches down. As I came to my senses, I felt a painful burning and I looked down to see my shorts were smoldering. I instinctively ran and dove in a nearby creek. My friends called 911 and soon the first responders brought me to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana to be treated for first to third degree burns.
Pain Is Not My Friend
That night is a painful blur to me; a sweet nurse had the more than unpleasant job of debriding me. I learned the meaning of that word the hard way by having the burnt skin and bubbly blisters scrubbed off my body with a wet cloth. Despite the caring focus of the nurse, it was a night I will never forget. The following days consisted of multiple trips to the debriding tanks, of which I developed a teeth-grinding fear. Thankfully Riley Childrens Hospital’s staff consists of heroes who helped me overcome every obstacle. Tony, Lesley, Ashley, and so many others would not let me quit and did everything they could to help me.
My everyday consisted of multiple IV changes, a hospital bed, and an extremely high- calorie, high-protein diet to help my skin heal. Every day, my mom and sister would bring me protein shakes. Physical therapists came to help me stretch and work my skin so it would not grow in too tight–another painful process. I had my mother and father, Jane and Mark Vanosdol, my sister Amber, and my good friends Ben Lewis and Kaylee Reeh constantly by my side giving me loving support the whole way. So many others came and supported me in the hospital: my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and my pastors. I learned that across many states and churches, people were praying for me.
A Special Patient
All of my future plans were suddenly in question. I was supposed to leave in just four weeks for automotive school in Florida, but that was now looking almost impossible. On a really hard day, I met a special friend in the room next to mine. She was only four years old and she had already been on the burn ward for three months when I arrived! She encouraged me and made me think that if she, whose burns were so much worse than mine, had the courage to endure, then I could too. (I am happy to tell you she is home now.) I will never forget her.
Answer to Prayer
After only seven days I was miraculously able to start to walk without assistance. My body was healing freakishly quick, and I was blessed that I didn’t have to have my scheduled surgery to get skin grafts. Between the hospital’s great staff, family, friends, and God’s healing hand, I was able to be released from the hospital in just seven days to continue recovering at home, with outpatient care.
Three weeks later, I had my bandages completely removed and now just had to wear support bands. I was even cleared to leave for school. I had one week to prepare!
It’s now been 15 months since I was burned. I have earned my mechanics certification from Universal Technical Institute in Kissimmee, Florida and am currently getting additional training with Universal Technical Institute and Mercedes-Benz in California. I will graduate in November 2011 from this training.
A goal that I have set for myself is that right after graduation, I am going to leave on a fundraising walk for Riley Hospital. I want to walk from San Diego, California to Jacksonville, Florida. I am planning on beginning this hike on November 17, 2011. I think it will take me from four to six months.
I am doing this to raise money for the patients on the burn unit who are there right now and who will be there in the future. Riley was so important to my health and healing. But, as my parents reminded me, it’s not just me. I had an older sister who was at Riley, Larissa, who died of a heart defect when she was 11-days old. My cousin’s daughter, Alexandria, received loving care at Riley until she also passed away. I’ve also had other extended family members whose children have been successfully treated at Riley. It holds a special place in my family’s heart.
How Can You Help?
If you would like to help me on my hike across America by donating to my walk, I would be so grateful! I am selling my car to hopefully cover my expenses while I am walking, so the proceeds you donate will go to the Burn Unit at Riley. No amount is too little or too big. Even $1 will help. I would also appreciate your prayers for a safe trip. You can keep up with me on my walk by reading my blog. I’ll be updating it as I walk.
I already have some friends whose little girls are going to hold a bake sale to raise money to donate. That makes me so excited that these kids would do this for me!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for considering supporting me!
Step It Up!