From Colorado Serenity Magazine, November 2017: On August 17, 2017, Bob Benefiel was bucked off his horse. Immediately after the fall, Bob was unconscious and not breathing, he then started breathing on his own. 911 was called and his wife Jody held his cervical spine until EMS arrived. He was taken by ambulance to Elk Creek Elementary School where he was met by the AirLife helicopter and flown to St Anthony Hospital. It was determined that he had suffered a severe spinal cord injury that was caused by a herniated disc at C2 & C3 that was compressing his spinal column. He also had 2 additional cervical vertebrae that had stable fractures. He underwent emergency surgery that same night and was then admitted to the Neuro Trauma ICU at St. Anthony Hospital.
On August 24, Bob was transferred to Craig Hospital with a central cord injury with permanent damage to his spinal column at the level of C3 & C4. He is considered to have incomplete paralysis. At the time of admission to Craig Hospital he just had movement of his big toes and thumbs.
At Craig Hospital, Bob had an intense rehabilitation schedule from 8am-4pm daily. He did not stop there. Anytime he had a space in his schedule, he found an opening in the therapy schedule to fill it in. In each part of his therapy appointments he pushed his limits and went beyond what was required that day. Bob told everyone at Craig that HE WOULD WALK OUT OF THERE! With his dedication, grit, determination and of course the attitude that this was the time to COWBOY UP, he made huge strides daily.
Any free time outside of therapy, Bob spent talking and encouraging other patients to keep trying. Bob’s focus and optimism throughout his journey has been infectious to all of those around him. His attitude made such an impression on the Craig staff, Bob has been asked to return to give talks about his accident and his recovery.
Incredibly, although not surprisingly to his friends, family and staff at Craig Hospital, Bob did just as he said he would and walked out of Craig on November 2nd.
After walking out of Craig Hospital that day, Bob set his next goal to getting back in the saddle a year after his accident – it may have been sooner, but he promised his doctors he would wait a year!
On August 17th, Bob reached that goal and rode his gelding Dusty and has been riding since! Seeing others ride since the accident has been difficult and brought back memories of being a kid and how much he loved to ride. That drive to ride again kept him going every day.
Bob shared, “When I reached that goal to ride, the accomplishment gave me such a happy heart and that feeling of freedom. When I am on a horse, I feel so free and all of my troubles are gone. My legs and arms are still weak, but I am comfortable once I am in the saddle.”
Bob explained that the accident was very humbling. He learned to ask for and receive help. Bob never blamed the accident on the horse. He admitted he knew better and hurried her along without doing the groundwork he knew was so important. “You can’t rush a young horse,” Bob stated.
Most importantly, Bob and Jody want to express how grateful they are to all of the people that have supported them on this journey. They are beyond thankful for this community and all of their help, thoughts and prayers!