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Butters on the mend

Julie Imada-Howard/Contributions by Cindy Ramunn0

On October 25, Richard Butters, 17, of Eagle, a left guard, defensive end and kicker for Vail Christian High School’s football team, thought he was making a routine tackle. What happened next changed his life forever.

After the game, Richard told his mother, Sharon Bishop, he felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. As a precaution, he was sent to Vail Valley Medical Center, where doctors discovered Richard had a slight crack in his spleen as well as a life-threatening blood disorder, affecting blood clotting. After four days in the intensive care unit, Richard was sent home. But on Nov. 3, five days after being released, Bishop found her son unconscious on the family room floor. She immediately called her former husband and Richard’s father, Jerry, and the doctor. By the time Jerry arrived at Bishop’s home, Richard had regained consciousness and passed out twice more. Jerry called 911.

“Thank God Jerry was there… I was pretty scared, and when the Eagle Fire District guys showed up, they were so good and calming,” said Bishop.



“If my mom wasn’t there that morning, I would have died,” said Richard, who normally lives with his father at their Colorado River home, but was recovering at Bishop’s home. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital, where surgeons discovered that an artery leading to Richard’s spleen had burst due to a softball-sized blood clot. They removed the damaged artery, the large clot, and his spleen.

“I feel really blessed and thankful that the Lord let me keep my son. It



was pretty close,” said Jerry.

Since the surgery, Bishop and Butters have refocused their priorities.

“I literally had to let some things go… There was no question my son was more important than what had to happen in my business. I was real fortunate that I had a staff that kept the office running… I couldn’t



have done it without their support,” said Jerry, a certified public

accountant.

“I feel it has brought us closer together… We had an opportunity to

reminisce about good times. Its unfortunate that it took an accident for

all of us to spend more time together. It’s a lesson not to take each

other for granted,” added Bishop.

The family praised the professionalism and compassion of the medical staff at Vail Valley Medical Center, VCHS’s staff and students for their support, and in particular, VCHS football coach Bob Isbell, for his commitment and concern. Isbell met them at the hospital the day of Richard’s surgery and stayed with them until he was out of recovery.

“He wouldn’t leave the hospital. It’s a real testament to him and to the

school he represents,” said Butters.

Richard’s teachers worked with the family to ensure Richard, a

senior at VCHS, graduates this month with his classmates. This summer, Richard is heading to California for a summer job and is then starting college there this fall. He will wear a medical identification bracelet for the rest of his life, listing his blood disorder and missing spleen.

“It changed me. I am thankful to be alive and to have both of my parents. I have a greater respect for them now,” said Richard.

Richard’s older sister Katy, who attends the University of Colorado and is a 2002 Eagle Valley High School graduate, says she was so worried about Richard when he was in the hospital, she got sick. “I was so scared, but I knew I had to keep my composure so that he wouldn’t see me upset,” says Katy. She stayed with him for 2 days straight.

Richard now says he feels better than ever and he’s not embarrassed to show you his battle scar, the one that runs down his chest. He’s thankful for the Vail Christian staff and students who helped him during his ordeal and he’ll actually miss the sport that caused injury. “I’m going to miss football, we had a great season,” says Butters.


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