Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 8, 2005

Local accident victims thankful for web site that allows them to keep in touch

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

With two local families greatly benefiting from the use of www.caringbridge.org, the Winsted Fire Department has taken it to heart to become the first volunteer fire department to be a sponsor of the site.

Ruth Anne Chilson and Tim Jensen, both who were in serious accidents this year, had their families maintain the site, posting condition updates, and fielding well wishes from countless family and friends.

“We can’t image what it would have been like without it (the web site),” said Tim’s father, Larry Jensen, who noted the site helped him keep his family in Colorado posted on Tim’s condition.

Jensen’s mother, Stephanie, also has a large family, and she echoed the thoughts of her husband that it was much easier and less stressful to be able to update the web site than to be constantly on the phone trying to keep people informed.

Chilson’s mother, Tami, said, too, that while Ruth Anne was in the hospital recovering, Tami would print off the sheets of messages on a daily basis for Ruth Anne to read.

“It’s unbelievable,” Tami said, noting Ruth Anne received close to 5,000 people who had been to the site. Tami was impressed that an area soldier who was in Iraq, Chad Wendolek, left her a message, as well as Bethany Hamilton, a girl from Hawaii who lost her arm in a shark attack. Ruth Anne, too, lost her arm as a result of her accident.

It has been an uphill battle for both Jensen and Chilson, as both have been through extreme therapy regimens, and are still trying to get back to a “normal” routine again.

Jensen did therapy six hours a day for six weeks; Chilson is still going through therapy three times a week, and is preparing to be a junior at Mayer Lutheran High School this fall.

Both families are thankful to everyone who helped and expressed concern following the accidents.

“We just want to give our deepest thanks to everyone that had anything at all to do with it,” Larry Jensen said. “It’s been overwhelming to go through.”

Tami Chilson said that one of Ruth Anne’s friends arrived at the hospital shortly after the accident and said she was not going home until she could visit Ruth Anne.

“We saw how much local families have been affected by the site, and wanted to do something to support the site in case it is needed locally in the future,” said Winsted Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer.

In its efforts to become a sponsor of the web site, Herbolsheimer said the fire department is planning on a haircutting fund raiser, which has two purposes – to raise funds for a bone marrow drive that is set to take place in October, as well as to raise the money for caringbridge.org.

He said if enough funds are raised to both have the bone marrow drive, and become a sponsor of caringbridge.org, the remainder of the money collected will be given to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Donations toward the fire department’s efforts can be sent to: Winsted Fire Department Relief Association, C/O Haircut Fund, PO Box 298, Winsted, MN 55395

Any questions about the events can be directed to Herbolsheimer at (320) 485-4210.

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