May 30 is a day that Lisa Fletcher will never forget.
It was the day she got the phone call that her son Eric, a standout athlete in golf, basketball and baseball was injured while on a buggy ride with his best friend Trevor Hoffman near Karthaus.
Eric had been thrown out of the buggy and drug for 60 feet. He wasn’t wearing a helmet or a seat belt and had extensive injuries.
But that was when a chain of miracles started for the Fletcher family.
Three other riders who heard the accident came to the scene. They managed to get a tourniquet on Eric’s badly injured arm, which his mom said most likely saved his life.
“I can’t even tell you how lucky we were that they were there and able to get that tourniquet on his arm. To be 16- and 17-year-old kids and have that presence of mind is amazing. They were also able to call 911 and give the EMTs the directions to where they were. They are absolutely amazing.”
The EMTs, who were from Karthaus, were able to get Eric to Altoona Hospital, where he was met by his frantic parents.
The doctors there told the family that Eric’s arm would need to be amputated. They also said that the family could seek a second opinion at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Cue the second miracle.
The exact same EMTs who had brought Eric to Altoona stayed and waited to see if he was going to be transferred to Pittsburgh.
“They wanted to be the ones to take him so that they could tell the doctors everything they saw when they arrived on scene,” said Fletcher. “I can not thank them enough for what they did.”
Once the Fletchers got to Pittsburgh, they were faced with the reality of how extensive Eric’s injuries were.
“His ear was detached, his occipital bone was broken, his nose was broken,” Fletcher said. “He had two brain bleeds and a nick in the artery in the back of his neck. His arm was degloved.”
The doctors at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh told the Fletchers they would do their best to save Eric’s arm, but to be prepared for the worst.
Eric had a degloving of his left arm. A degloving is a type of severe injury that happens when the top layers of your skin and tissue are ripped from the underlying muscle, connective tissue, or bone.
On top of that, his arm acted almost as a coal shovel, according to his mom, scooping up gravel into the wound.
While the chances were not good that Eric would keep his arm, his mom put out a Facebook post and asked people to pray for her son.
“I asked for prayers on Facebook,” Fletcher said. “The post went all over PA and then to other states where we have family. He was on several prayer chains and prayer lists, including at our local church, St. Francis.”
After the prayers started, the Fletchers received another miracle.
“The doctor came out and he was absolutely stunned,” said Fletcher. “He said, ‘I don’t like to use the word miracle, but we were able to find a pulse in his arm.’”
She said that the doctor told her that when they pulled Eric’s muscles back, his arteries and nerves were all intact, something that was amazing considering the poor prognosis.
“I firmly believe it was all of the prayers that saved his life.”
Once Eric was moved into his room, he was visited by a social worker at the hospital. She told him that he needed to come up with a mantra — something positive to use as motivation.
“She told us to think up a hashtag and I said, ‘You mean like Fight for Fletch?’ And Eric thought it was silly.”
But the social worker made a sign that said #FightForFletch and put it on his door.
Clearfield residents Arianne Greslick and Nicole Unch saw the #FightForFletch and decided to start a fundraiser by selling signs.
Nicole’s husband owns Full Throttle and made the signs free of charge.
“We can’t believe that so many people bought the signs,” Fletcher said. “I told Eric, ‘You have changed Clearfield. If you only knew what was going on back home right now.’
“Everyone has gone above and beyond to help us. We don’t know what the future holds, but we will definitely pay all of this forward somehow.”
The community rallied together and the signs for Eric can be seen all over the town, as well as in Curwensville.
“There is no explanation for how Eric has continued to beat expectations,” said Fletcher. “And I firmly believe that it’s down to the community and their support. Every time someone sees a #FightForFletch sign, it reminds them to take five seconds and say a little prayer for him.”
The community also put together a successful spaghetti dinner, led by Kristen Lanich, who’s son Brody beat cancer and had a similar outpouring of community support.
“I told her we didn’t need a fundraiser,” Fletcher said. “But she told us we don’t know what we will need down the line and insisted. She said she wanted to pay it forward because of the way everyone rallied around Brody.”
A chicken barbeque and cornhole tournament are also in the works for the family.
Eric came home on June 26 after spending 28 days at Children’s Hospital. He has six pins in his arm, along with a wound vac attached. The wound vac has to be changed twice a week.
Fletcher is the administer of meds. She has learned to give him medicines through his IV and spends her days watching over her son.
“He gets tired quick,” she said. “He is doing what he is supposed to be doing though. He will eventually need more surgeries and a skin graft, but we are handling it.
“Eric was able to go to Trevor’s graduation party for a little bit. I was able to thank the EMTs there for what they did for them. He also went to his friend Zach Hess’ graduation party for about an hour.”
Mainly, Fletcher says, Eric’s friends take turns coming to see him and sitting with him watching TV and hanging out.
“His friends have gone above and beyond for him,” said Fletcher. “The basketball team has been great too. Nate (Glunt, the Bison head basketball coach) checks on him constantly and has FaceTimed him a couple of times.”
The doctors say they aren’t sure what the future holds for Eric, who has already surpassed many of the goals they thought he wouldn’t. He is moving his fingers and is in great spirits for a teenager who has had his life turned upside down.
“He has only said, ‘This sucks’ twice,” Fletcher said. “Once was when we thought we were being discharged from the hospital and they decided to keep him for one more surgery. The other was on my birthday on July 3.
“He just blows my mind how he has handled this whole situation.”
It’s obvious that the #FightForFletch was just the right mantra to use.