Vern Ward on the mend | TSLN.com

Vern Ward on the mend

Vern and two of his girls take a break from the hospital to throw a loop at some Colorado geese.

With spring just around the corner, the Ward family is looking forward to summer, and getting the man of the house home. But this summer, the family agenda will be slightly different from summer's past.

After a traumatic head injury, involving his horse, and the removal of as many as 25 bone fragments from his brain, Vern has spent the last month at Craig Hospital, in Englewood, Colorado, following therapy protocol and surprising his doctors with his determination to return home.

Vern was in a barn, cleaning stalls with his youngest (of four) daughters, Taya, when the accident happened, according to his wife, Laurie. Taya did not actually see the accident, but found him soon afterwards, which was a life saver with the severity of the injury. "Time was on his side," Laurie says.

That was February 12. Since then, Laurie has been diligent about keeping Vern's friends and family (now dubbed #teamVern) up to date on his remarkable recovery, and sharing a few of the funnier moments, of what has surely been a traumatic experience for her, also.

"So at breakfast, Fehrin tells Vern he needs to find a "hobby" for the summer…to pass his time and so he stays out of our way working with colts and haying. We ask him if he will make cedar hope chests for the girls and maybe a few to sell. He asks if he can drive a tractor and we say "no," he asks if he can ride his stud and we say "no," Laurie writes on March 6. After a quick reminder that he is pretty much grounded for the summer because of the accident and a concussion, Vern comes back with, "So your telling me that on top of a broken skull, I have a concussion too?"

"It is gonna be a long summer…," Laurie concludes. But one no doubt, she and their girls are looking forward to.

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"The girls are doing amazing at keeping the place going," Laurie shared, referring to what she jokingly calls their "vacation" in Colorado. "My mom is there and few neighbors are helping with cows. But we are so proud of how the girls have stepped up where needed and just done what needs to be done."

And on top of family, the community has rallied for their friend and neighbor. "The community as a whole is helping keep our life together while here. We sure are blessed to live in an amazing community," Laurie added.

The fund raisers for the family continue. On March 5, there was a pancake feed, at Ski's Pizzeria. "Thank you to the Belle Fourche Volleyball team and friends for the pancakes this morning! We are headed your way now, Dad!!," daughter Fehrin posted, just before she and Taya headed to Colorado for their spring break. And St. Paul's Catholic Church held a bake sale, Feb. 26.

On March 6, Martin Livestock sold a heifer donated by Kime Cattle Co., Shane and Heather Kime and family, Nenzel, Nebraska. "It was extremely well attended and raised around $14,000," Elie Otte said.

Pioneer Bank in Belle Fourche, S.D., has set up a medical fund. Checks can be mailed to Vern Ward Medical Fund, c/o Pioneer Bank, 700 State St., Belle Fourche, SD 57717. And a Caring Bridge site has also been created, with updates, http://www.caringbridge.org/public/vernward.

The Vern Ward Family Benefit Auction is planned for April 1, at the Branding Iron, in Belle Fourche. The donations coming in for it are nothing short of amazing. Online bidding will be available thanks to DV Auctions and the Grill family. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/vernwardbenefit/?fref=nf&pnref=story or contact Faye Pelster at 605/208-6388.

Following are some of the auction items: Grill Cattle Co. and B Lazy T Ranch are offering a $1,000 Bull Coupon on the purchase of any bull in the 2017 Red Western Bull Sale April 14. Please call Brad or Jeff Grill for any questions on this donation or to receive a catalog for April 14 bull sale. Brad (605)673-5518, Jeff(605)459-2577.

Gabby and Kelly Bush are donating a framed and matted Bob Coronato Pendleton print.

Fulton Family Performance Horses has graciously donated a stud fee to A Streak of Fling, their 1999 Red Roan Stallion, with progeny earnings of more than $1.7 million dollars! The Fulton Family usually only donates a stud fee to "Streaker" to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, but Vern and his family are so special to them, they made an exception. http://www.fultonranch.com

Bachman Construction has donated 25 ton of gravel, which includes delivery within a 50 mile radius of Belle Fourche. http://www.bachman-construction.net/

And this is just a few of the generous donations from a community that is waiting for Vern to come home! Kevin Fuhrer and his wife Rhonda have designed an "I'm betting on Vern," cap. Check them out on her Facebook page to place an order. They are $20 each.

And #teamvern shirts are being sold by the Short Chaps 4- H Club for $20. With assorted kid and adult sizes, either pink or black, the front has the hash tag, and the back has Vern's famous saying, "Give me a Hoo Haa!" Contact the club for more information.

All this to help get Vern back home, roping something besides city birds.

"We went to a big park last weekend and Vern kept trying to rope the geese there; more people and dogs than we have ever seen! We did find a quieter one Sunday with a creek and dirt path, more our style! He is still progressing leaps and bounds above what any professional expected," Laurie says.

"Not too many cowboys have gone through here, so he has doctors and therapists in awe on his roping skills," Laurie said.

Like all "vacations," whether good or bad, they come to an end.

"We got the word [March 8] that he will be discharged March 16th! We will still do two-three days of outpatient therapy either in Rapid or Spearfish. They told him he is on a 'journey' but his journey is a steep upward slope (he has progressed unbelievably fast)," Laurie said.

To help:

Benefit Auction:

April 1

Branding Iron Steakhouse, Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Pioneer Bank in Belle Fourche, S.D., has set up a medical fund. Checks can be mailed to Vern Ward Medical Fund, c/o Pioneer Bank, 700 State St., Belle Fourche, SD 57717

Vern can receive mail at Craig Hospital, 3425 S. Clarkson St., Englewood, CO, 80113

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