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Young man's family learning to cope with accident
MARYVILLE, Mo. -- Robbie Lade's smile seemed as big as ever.
Friends surrounded him. Others visited. His father beamed. The radio blared from the truck.
And when it was time, the young man in a wheelchair reached his right hand into a bucket full of ticket stubs and pulled out the winner.
But maybe the biggest winners on a recent Saturday afternoon were those who stopped by a car dealership, or paid their $10 donation for the raffle, or just prayed for Lade and his family.
"We've come a long ways in two years," said Rob Lade, Robbie's dad.
Hurt in accident
Robbie was seriously injured May 2, 2004, in a vehicle wreck. He was a senior in high school awaiting the fall, when he was to begin playing football at Northwest Missouri State University.
But the young man suffered a traumatic brain injury and damage to his lungs.
"In fact, his problem with his lungs was how we almost lost him," Bob said. "One week into it, they told us he wasn't going to make it."
But Bob and Diane Lade didn't like thinking that way. And, apparently, neither does Robbie.
"They've told us that as long as a patient wants to get better, they will," Bob said.
But nobody was sure what to expect. The Lades sure didn't know. Even the doctors weren't sure.
"What was the prognosis? We weren't sure," Bob said. "We just keep working and working. It's something insurance companies and Medicaid don't understand."
Which is one reason why the fund-raiser took place. Which is why friends and family and those who don't even know the Lades have gone into the piggy banks and scraped together quarters and nickels and dimes. Every little bit helps when it comes to taking care of the rising medical costs.
Robbie has been in rehab centers much of the last two years, first in Lincoln, Neb., and now in Omaha, Neb.
So instead of learning chemistry and Spanish and where he should be in the Cover 2 defense for the Bearcats, Robbie is learning cognitive skills and things most people take for granted.
"I want him to be able to go to a Bearcat game by himself and come home by himself," Bob said. "You can't really say how this will go. There are no two the same.
"We are very lucky compared to other people, though."
Bob and Diane Lade recognize that, too, because of the support they've seen within the community. Bob works at Northwest Missouri State, and Diane has taught many years at St. Gregory's. They have friends. As a group of Robbie's classmates lined up for a photo, Bob said, "I'm continually amazed with these kids, because they've been here for us."
Support and faith
It's that support, and their own faith, that has helped the Lades through the rough years.
Robbie will continue rehabilitation at Quality Living Inc. in Omaha for as long as he needs it. Bob and Diane make it up there during the week and spend weekends with their son.
They cherish it, because they know how close they came to not having him around.
"We think Robbie's still here because he's going to help a lot of people," Bob said.