Steven Sharp sat in his wheelchair Sunday in the middle of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig’s gymnasium surrounded by people.
Behind Sharp stood his fiancée, Kailee Greenwood, but everywhere else around him were people he wasn’t familiar with.
Friends, family and supporters showed up Sunday to welcome home Sharp, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a motocross crash June 26 at Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park. Sharp was thankful for everyone who showed up, even if he didn’t remember all of them.
“This is better than being in Denver,” Sharp said of being home. “It is neat to see all these people here and I am enjoying it all.”
When Sharp, 21, went down June 26 during a race, Greenwood was at the race, but didn’t see the crash.
It was initially announced a different racer had wrecked, but once Greenwood, 19, saw Sharp’s bike being taken off the track, she knew something bad had happened.
“I freaked out and knew it wasn’t good because he wasn’t standing up,” she said. “I was the only one at the race that day, so I had to answer all the medical questions and set up the ambulance and life flight all by myself.”
Sharp’s family had visited South Dakota that weekend for a wedding and was on their way back to Craig when Greenwood texted Sharp’s mother, Carol.
“Kailee sent us a text that said ‘Steven’s hurt, can’t talk, let you know,’ but his dad and I knew it was bad,” Carol said. “We then found out what happened and they were flying him to Grand Junction and we thought he was already gone.”
Carol and Sharp’s father, Ernie, as well as his two sisters, Emily and Sarah, went straight to Grand Junction when they arrived back in Colorado.
Carol said family members grieved on the road thinking they had already lost Sharp, but when they got to St. Mary’s hospital, the situation only seemed to be getting worse.
“When we got there, we basically touched a corpse,” she said of seeing Sharp for the first time. “There was no life. He was grey and clammy. They had us fill out paperwork about stopping life support and told us we would know more in 72 hours.”
After the allotted time passed, Sharp was making progress, but doctors told the family they wouldn’t know what kind of recovery, if any, he would make for 10 days to two weeks.
But, her son had made it past 72 hours, Carol said, and that was something.
In August, after Sharp was taken off life support, he was transported to Kindred Hospital in Denver.
Sharp had been hospitalized for over a month and had yet to regain consciousness.
But, the affects of Sharp’s accident were still being felt in Craig.
Greenwood gave birth to her and Sharp’s son, Carson, in March and was not working at the time of the crash.
When Sharp got injured, his family lost their only source of income and eventually their house.
“Our son was only 3 months old when Steven got hurt and I had to balance time between being physically an only parent and being there for (Steven),” Greenwood said. “I had to move out of our house and get an apartment. It was a tricky situation.”
But, there was hope as Sharp awoke and began talking.
Because of the brain injury, Sharp hardly remembered anything.
Carol said family members didn’t know he was conscious again until he moved to Craig Rehab Hospital in Denver.
“We saw him open his eyes and talk to us, but the doctors told us it was all part of his comatose state,” she said. “When we got to the Craig hospital, a neurosurgeon told us he was conscious. He said sometimes doctors use all the comatose states as a way to avoid telling families their loved one will be a vegetable.”
It wasn’t until another doctor visited Sharp that hope was renewed, Carol said.
The doctor talked to Carol and Ernie, but stared at Sharp the entire conversation. When he left, he told Carol he would be OK.
“That doctor was the first one to give us hope,” Carol said. “We were prepared for death and we heard all the worst, but now we heard he would be OK.”
Two days after Christmas, Sharp and Greenwood will celebrate their 2-year anniversary.
Sharp’s initial wedding proposal came in May.
Because he didn’t remember the first proposal, Sharp said he wanted to propose again so he could remember.
“I came out of the coma and told her, ‘Hey, you should marry me,’” Sharp said. “I didn’t remember the first one, so I wanted to do it again.”
The two don’t have immediate plans for a wedding, but Sharp said he wants to continue to rehab before the wedding.
He will be doing therapy at his parents’ home, where he is living now, as he tries to regain use of his right hand and continues to work on walking again.
Sharp said he also needs to relearn about himself as well as Greenwood.
But, it’s small things, like remembering animals, vehicles and even nicknames that gives Greenwood hope, she said.
“He is Lima Bean and I am Cornbread, and he remembered that for some reason,” she laughed. “He said just seeing me triggers things and he has memories come back in waves.”
No matter how far he comes, Sharp said he has already overcome expectations.
He’s not done yet, however, and he said he can’t wait to be up and walking again.
“When I was on life support, they never thought I would get off,” he said. “Then, when I did get off, they said I would be stuck in a nursing home the rest of my life.
“I’ve been in a wheelchair too long, so I’m ready to walk.”
Joshua Gordon can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.