Wyoming wrestler needs your support and prayers

By Deb Kleinfeldt | Oct. 27, 2005, 12 a.m. (ET)
In January of 2001, at a high school wrestling tournament in Thermopolis Wyoming, a scrappy 17 year old senior had a bout accident which left him paralyzed from the neck down with only minimal use of his arms and very little use of his hands. His name is Andy Scott and he has spent over 1500 days in a wheelchair.

Andy's goal that day was to win the tournament and to eventually take the State Tournament, a goal and dream that was never to be fulfilled. After two surgeries one in Wyoming and one in California his movement in his arms improved somewhat but still has limited use of his hands and fingers. As if this young man had not gone through enough disappointment in such a short life he would have more sadness in his future.

As Andy physically was improving his heart was broken again. His Mom, Marilyn, lost her nine year battle with cancer in July of 2003. Andy and his Mom were very close and after he said, "Your Mom is your biggest supporter in everything. When you lose that it's tough." Marilyn was always proud of Andy and I'm sure still is. Then in September of 2003 one of Andy's former teammates and best friends Ryan Richardson had reached a life milestone in asking his girlfriend's father for her hand and then later that day was killed in a horrible car accident. I know as I share this story with college coaches and athletes you understand more than most the bond between team mates and how important a family is to an athlete. After Ryan's funeral Andy said, "Emotionally it yanked out my guts and turned my light upside down, yet again."

When I look at what Andy has gone through since that January afternoon of 2001 in an innocent activity such as competing in a high school sport I am amazed at his strength his determination and his continued hope. Many physically stronger than Andy would have given up long before now. But, Andy continues to fight, to hope and to pray for a day his legs will take him instead of his chairs wheels. He has been an inspiration to his family and many of his friends and to people who have only heard of this scrappy tall slender blonde young man in a wheel chair. His character is ten feet tall.

Andy made a decision to go back to school and entered Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. His goal here was to find a field he could work in eventually and support himself. His dream of being an auto mechanic would not be realized so he decided to take classes in Computer Aided Drafting and Engineering. He just finished his fourth semester and currently holds a 3.5 GPA with Phi Theta Kappa eligibility.

Last year Andy was doing some reading of the Christopher Reeves Foundation and decided that he would walk again. After looking into all his options he found a surgeon in Portugal. Dr. Carlos Limos has accepted Andy for a new procedure called Olfactory Tissue Transplantation for Spinal Chord Injury. Dr. Limos assessed Andy's medical history, MRI scans and other tests and determined Andy an excellent surgical candidate. This procedure in simple terms is where Dr. Limos will take olfactory tissues which are located between the nose and brain and have regenerative properties then transplants them at the area of spinal injury after scare tissue is removed. Forty six people in the United States have had this procedure done and it has helped all but one who had an additional injury that complicated the outcome. Andy will spend about one week in Portugal for the surgery but will need to spend up to six months at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan located in Detroit. He will have specialized and rigorous therapy while there.

The surgery itself will cost $48,000. Addition costs will include:
  • Transportation to and from Portugal for Andy and a family member.
  • Rehabilitation including housing, therapy, personal assistant and medical equipment.
  • Funds for family and friends to travel to Detroit to support Andy during his stay.

I know that wrestlers are use to fundraisers. As a mother of a wrestler I helped haul tons of fruit from fundraisers to people who supported wrestling in our community and I know this sort of support happens all over the United States. We take care of our own and our wish, our plea is that you will be able to have a fundraiser for a brother wrestler, even if it's only a pass the hat after practice. Any contribution is not too small, many small gestures will all add up to Andy having this surgery and with God's grace, Andy will get his legs back too.

In this day when so much negative news is heard about our young people I always cringe; there could be so many young college athletes willing to make a contribution to someone less fortunate. This is an opportunity for able bodies to help someone able hearted. I pray as Andy's friend, as a mother that you will be able to help Andy and then be with us to celebrate whatever successes this surgery will offer him, even if it is only an excellent try for something better.

Attached is the information you will need for contributions or if you have questions. Please feel free to contact me if you have concerns or questions about Andy and this procedure. God bless you all.

Deb Kleinfeldt
Powell, WY 82435

Contributions may be made to:
First National Bank of Powell
Andy Scott Account
P.O. Box 907
Powell, Wyoming 82435