Vail ski instructors rally to help one of their own
December 23 was a normal day on the mountain for Vail ski instructor Brendan Kerr. He was walking around the resort area when he spotted a pair of skis wobbling and sliding, ready to tumble off a nearby rack.
A good Samaritan who has seen his share of ski rack fails, Kerr quickly swept into action, catching the skis and placing them back on the rack. The skis were left unscathed, though Brendan suffered a minor cut to his hand after the selfless gesture. Unphased by the small cut, Brendan continued on with the rest of his day.
It wasn’t until the early hours of Christmas Eve that Kerr discovered his injury was more than just a cut. He woke to pain and swelling in his hand so severe that rushing to the hospital was the only logical choice, and in this case, the one choice that would eventually save his life. He was immediately administered antibiotics, and then underwent a number of tests throughout the day as his doctors worked tirelessly to find a diagnosis.
On Christmas morning, Kerr was officially diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare infection that involves a flesh-eating bacteria which spreads aggressively and can be fatal if not treated right away. According to WebMD, 25 percent to 30 percent of cases in the United States have resulted in death.
For the survivors of this disease, the road to recovery is arduous at best. Amputations, blood transfusions and, in Kerr’s case, surgery are among the most common treatments; though, none of those options come with guarantees.
By the time of diagnosis, the infection had spread up through his fingers, and into his chest.
After 12 days and six surgeries, Kerr is still hospitalized.
ENTER THE COMMUNITY
Insurance, if applicable, only covers so much of the costs; with Kerr out of work, those costs have undoubtedly racked up. Luckily, he is part of a community of ski instructors who not only empathize with injury but also don’t hesitate to help their own.
Also, to his luck, Kerr’s girlfriend’s family really likes him. They created a GoFundMe campaign to help provide financial relief throughout this difficult time.
The response, from his family, friends and fellow blue jackets, has been immense. Donations and shares on social media poured in from all angles, including from many who’ve never met Kerr. It has been a little over a week since the campaign launched, and the hundreds of donations, mostly modest in nature, have totaled above $34,000.
Most ski instructors apply for the job with little expectation of financial return; they do it to have fun and to share their passion and joy with others. Though it may seem like there is no safety net in such an occupation, Kerr’s case proves that his wealth, and his family, are greater than what meets the eye.
If you’d like to donate to Kerr’s campaign, visit https://www.gofundme.com/brendan-kerr-support-fund.
Justin Fillmore and his dog Parker had no shelter from the storm when the snow arrived Thursday.