LIHUE — Curtis Allen was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to play pickleball with friends on the North Shore. Every week he drove down to Rob’s Good Time Grill to go swing dancing. He is a fine carpenter by trade and spent his life working with his hands.
Then he broke his neck.
Allen’s fingers can no longer grip a pickleball or woodworking tools. He can no longer wiggle his toes, much less get out on the dance floor. From the chest down, he can’t feel a thing.
In an interview Thursday morning from his bed in the intensive care unit of Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, Allen wrote — a tracheotomy prevents him from speaking — “I’m hanging in here. Tired of being in bed.”
It’s been a month since Allen’s injury on Dec. 2. He was out on his deck when a dizzy spell hit him and he fell four feet to the ground face first. Unable to move, he laid in the sun for over 12 hours before a friend found him.
Allen was taken by medivac helicopter to Oahu, where doctors fused three of his vertebrae in order to stabilize his spine. He is no longer in critical condition, but the road to recovery looks to be long and expensive. Allen’s loved ones started a gofundme campaign to help pay for medical expenses.
“Plans for the future include inpatient rehab in Oahu before returning to Washington where he will live with me at our grandparents house,” Allen’s niece, Stevie Heitzman, wrote in an update on the gofundme page.
Allen and those who care about him are holding onto hope that one day he may be able to walk again or at least regain some of the mobility that once defined his life.
Stem cell therapy may offer hope in the future, but the treatment is still in the experimental phase. A more tangible option is a special wheelchair that would allow Allen to access terrain normally off limits to paraplegics, but those models do not come cheap.
“Insurance will not cover the specialized wheelchair, bath or anything needed to modify the house. Anything donated will go directly to those items and his bills,” Allen’s niece wrote. “Anything donated will go directly to those items and his bills. Thank you everyone for everything you are doing!”
As of Saturday afternoon, Allen’s gofundme has received over $23,600 from 71 different people whose lives Allen touched. At the bottom of the page are dozens of comments from family members, friends and well-wishers.
Two of Allen’s friends wrote, “There is no other more open-hearted person in the world. The world desperately needs people like him!”
“Oh Curtis! You are such a kind beautiful spirit,” said one post. “Carol’s class isn’t the same without you as my dance partner and I keep thinking about how much fun we’ve had practicing Lindy Hop. I’ve been thinking about you every day, sending love, and visualizing your recovery. It’s good to hear you are in good care. Wishing miracles for you Curtis!”
Another said, “This donation is a collection of generosity from Curtis’s friends from pickleball and dancing. We all are sending love as well and hope to see him on the courts and the dance floor again soon!”