When Community Matters 1

No Response Too Small When Tragedy Strikes

We try to keep the vision at bay. A young driver. Your young driver. Your child, who is prepared, yet inexperienced, sets out on a frosty, foggy morning to drive himself to school. You’re certain that the sirens you heard just now are for him. It’s a vision that plays over and over in our minds, especially in those first months of their independence.
For most of us, such visions are interrupted by some confirmation of the safety of our child. A text, maybe, “At school. C U later,” and then that sigh of relief. For Danae (Nye) and Ron Miller, of Tumalo, on January 6th of this year, the comforting confirmation that their son, 16 year-old Logan, had arrived at Sisters High School never came. In fact, it was intercepted by the most horrific of communications. They got the call from emergency response personnel that Logan was in critical condition. His pickup truck had slipped on the ice and collided with a truck traveling in the opposite direction and then was struck by another truck before coming to rest. Logan was critically injured and in need of immediate surgery if he was to survive.

The fog was too thick to allow for transport via Air Life. In the first of a series of heroic efforts by emergency and medical personnel, Logan was transferred to St. Charles Medical Center and was in surgery—brain surgery—within 90 minutes of the accident. His skull had been shattered beyond repair in one area. Traumatic Brain Injury was a certainty. Recovery was not so certain.
Word travels fast in Central Oregon. We’re really an island of sorts when you think about it. An island filled with technological whizzes, creative types, stalwart ranchers and farmers, and an ocean of empathy surrounding at all times. This community did what it does so well—times 100.

Abbie Block, a family friend, put up a Facebook page entitled ‘Stay Strong for Logan Miller.’ “It was the second night at the hospital,” she said. “I was trying to keep everyone updated on Logan’s surgery, I was texting about 20 family members. Then I thought of creating a Facebook page—it really took off from there.” To date there are over 1,200 followers and growing.

Knowing that the family would need to be at the hospital around the clock, the Mahoney family delivered a trailer to the St. Charles camping area for them. Block and friend Loriel Cook also began a “meal train” allowing community members (27 are involved) to coordinate regular meal service for Logan’s parents so that they could focus on the task of absorbing and making sense of all that was happening in the hospital.

This was just the beginning. While Logan was placed in a medically-induced coma for three weeks to allow his brain to rest and heal, friends at Sisters High School were teaming up with a local saddlery shop to make and sell leather bracelets that Cook dreamed up as a fundraiser. Fellow ranchers, farmers and friends were keeping the Miller property up and running, donating hay and caring for the livestock, and assuring that their family income could continue uninterrupted. Fundraisers sprung up at Sisters High School. Local gyms, prompted by one of Logan’s ICU nurses, organized ‘Lift for Logan’ fundraising events in March.

And, speaking of the ICU nurses, the St. Charles medical team and staff have their own community rallying around Logan and his family. “That’s what made it tolerable in the darkest times,” says Nye. “Logan’s medical team has been so caring and engaged in his healing process.”

Often, when tragedy strikes we stand frozen, unable to discern what action might possibly be of any help or comfort. When you think your response can’t be helpful, isn’t meaningful, or you don’t know the family well enough, know this right now: you are wrong.

Remember these words from Ron. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, and if the outcome had been different I might not be saying this, but this has been the most beautiful experience in my life. To see and feel all of the overwhelming support—so many people pulling for Logan, sending their positive thoughts and prayers—we could feel all of that positive energy. There is no question that all of that support and love coming through helped Logan to heal. It was an incredible feeling. And now that Logan is awake, he realizes how so many people stepped up, even those we had lost contact with over the years. The prayers from so many were so heartfelt, people were sending so much love, it made the difference. We know in our hearts that Logan came back for a reason.” This is all the proof you need in order to know that your sincere heartfelt response in whatever form, is by its very nature an energy that can support and heal those who are suffering.

Today, Logan is healing remarkably well, and amazing his medical team. While his journey to regain his strength and ability to return to his ranching lifestyle continues, one piece of his future is quite certain: Logan and his family know without a doubt that they have a community that is ‘in it’ for the long haul with them.