hope & healing
While the idea behind Morgan’s Place began with Morgan’s injury and recovery, the goal is to become a place of healing and hope for anyone with life-changing injuries. There are so many people struggling to put their lives back together who could benefit tremendously by a supportive community like Morgan’s Place.
Here are some real-life stories that illustrate the importance of Morgan’s Place:
Assuming risk is part of any racer’s life, especially when you’ve been racing motorcycles since you were two years old like John Sams, now 27.
“As a flat track racer, you understand that every time you get on your bike, there’s a chance of injury,” explains John. “But you’re never really prepared for a serious accident and how it can change your life in an instant.”
For John, that instant occurred on June 13, 2020. Though he’d been racing flat track since he was six years old and spent a year as a professional racer, John had made racing a hobby – a way to stay in touch with lifelong friends and share his passion for motorsports.
One of these friends began building a drag quad, which is designed to race “drag style” (side by side) on a dirt/sand track. John’s friend valued his experience and asked him to test the custom-made quad and provide feedback during an upcoming race. He was more than happy to comply.
“The racing community is tight-knit,” said John fondly. “It’s really a big family, where everyone looks out for each other. I’ve made friends with people all over the country, in all types of racing sports. I’ll value these relationships for the rest of my life.”
On the day of the race, the bike performed without a problem until the last pass, when a catastrophic mechanical failure occurred. The nitrous oxide system, which allows the engine to burn more fuel and oxygen and increase speed, stuck open. In that position, John couldn’t slow the bike down, though he tried every failsafe. Once the bike left the track, he realized that the only option was to jump off, going over 100 mph.
“I remember being tossed around like a rag doll, just tumbling over the ground,” recalled John. “When I stopped, I did the test that most racers do when they have a fall – I tried moving my hands and feet. I wasn’t really scared until I realized I couldn’t move my legs and began struggling to breathe.”
John was rushed to a local trauma center, where they quickly realized the extent of his injuries required more care than they were able to provide. He was transferred to McClaren-Macomb and rushed into surgery to fuse thoracic vertebrae T7-T10 and insert bi-lateral chest tubes.
In addition to John’s spinal injury, he had seven broken ribs, a punctured lung and a severely broken wrist that required six pins to repair. Unfortunately, the physicians could not diagnose why his lungs were not healing properly, so he was transferred once again to the University of Michigan Hospital. After 17 days on a feeding tube, the doctors discovered that his rib had punctured a duct in the lung, requiring additional treatment.
John spent two months in the hospital before he was released. He underwent therapy in the hospital, but because of COVID, family members were not allowed to attend these sessions and learn how to continue them at home. Meanwhile, friends prepared his house by building a wheelchair ramp.
“Even though my injuries were severe, I was thankful to be alive,” said John. “I know the accident could have been worse, even fatal, but the real struggle was just beginning.”
John quickly learned that the house wasn’t set up for a wheelchair. He was unable to use the bathrooms and daily activities were a huge challenge. His mother quit her job to become a full-time caregiver and because he eventually lost his health insurance through his employer, he had a lag time of two months before he could resume physical therapy.
As John learned, there is nothing that hinders recovery more than inactivity, which causes muscles to atrophy and become weak. When he was attending therapy for two hours, five days a week, he was making great progress, but as the therapy dwindled down to one hour, twice a week, his recovery slowed. He tried to do as much as possible on his own and with the help of family, but without the use of his legs and his wrist, it was extremely difficult.
why john supports morgan's place
John knew Morgan prior to his accident and had even raced with her in the past. She and her parents have been like extended family to John over the years.
“When I heard about the plans for Morgan’s Place, I was so excited,” exclaimed John. “I truly believe that having a place like that would have changed the trajectory of my recovery and would still be helping me make progress, both mentally and physically. I consider myself a strong person and I’ve achieved and even surpassed some of my goals for recovery, but I know a place like this would have made a huge difference.”
Having a place to stay and heal would have taken the pressure off John’s family and provided the therapy and motivation to recover quickly. And, then there’s the mental aspect.
It’s so important to be around people who understand what you’re going through – people who have faced similar challenges. Morgan’s Place could offer a community where people help themselves and others through recovery and beyond by creating an invaluable support system.
“I’m not going to stop living my life because of this accident,” said John, his voice thick with emotion. “I plan on working and living to the fullest, but I need time to adjust to my ‘new normal,’ whatever that may be. I believe Morgan’s Place can give people the time and support they need. It’s so great to see good people doing good things, but they can’t do it without help.”
Your donation can help people like John get the support and therapy they need to live the best life possible.