EAGLE-VAIL — Patrick Horton and Sondra Slappey have been Vail Valley locals for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until the couple had a life-changing accident that they experienced just how generous and supportive the community can be.
The Eagle-Vail couple was hit by a car while biking on vacation at South Padre Island in Texas. They’d spent the day kite surfing and were on their way to dinner on their bikes when a drunk driver collided with both of them.
Sondra sustained injuries to her hand, ankle, shoulder and pelvis and underwent neck and shoulder surgery. She took her first steps since the accident earlier this month.
Patrick had a broken clavicle and leg, along with a severe concussion that still has lingering effects, including double vision.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Both are expected to make full recoveries, but undoubtedly since the accident, their lives have completely changed. Patrick is a plumber and is currently unable to return to work. Sondra is a Realtor with Double Diamond Realty, and said she is just getting back to her job with the help of her associates. Once the quintessential mountain town couple, active in every way (they met whitewater rafting in Alaska), they’ve spent the winter so far at home, focusing on getting back to health.
“We’ve surprised some people who expected us to be very broken,” said Slappey. “We have a long road of recovery ahead of us, but we’ve gotten over the most painful part.”
SUPPORT THEIR RECOVERY
The couple’s friends are inviting the community to support their recovery at a fundraiser at Route 6 Cafe in Eagle-Vail tonight at 6 p.m. Entry is free, and appetizers will be provided by the restaurant. More than 35 silent auction items have been donated, with the proceeds going toward financial support for the couple.
Slappey said at first she was hesitant about the idea of a fundraising event.
“We’re really doing OK,” she said. “There are a lot of other people with bigger needs than us.”
Still, she said the event will be a good time to reconnect with friends and personally thank the community for its help. Slappey said they’ve been shocked at the flood of support they’ve received from friends, family, the community and complete strangers.
“It’s a situation no one wants to be in, but the more support there is, the more it helps your spirit,” she said. “To feel you’re a part of the community is special these days. We’re so grateful for the support, whether it’s a note, phone call, donation, meal or kind smile. All of that adds up.”
One friend, Kim Dozier, is helping organize today’s fundraiser, and she said she was surprised at the extent that the community has supported the event.
“My phone rings on a daily basis with people just asking what they can do,” Dozier said. “We had Novus Auto Glass call, for example. They said, ‘’We don’t know who they are, but we want to help.’ I’ve lived here 12 years, and I’ve never experienced this generosity in the valley. The people who live here really get it.”
Thanks to generous donations, the silent auction at the fundraiser will include items such as brand new skis, restaurant gift cards, dog day care, custom fireplace mantles, windshield replacements and more.
Can’t make it to the event but still want to help? Contact Dozier at 970-390-9555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and email@example.com.