KELOWNA – Rugby is a tough sport played by tough individuals, so you wouldn’t expect the kind of emotion that’s coming from these bruised and battered athletes.
Members of the Kelowna Crows gathered at the Parkinson Rec Centre rugby field Thursday night to show their support for Judah Campbell. The 24-year-old broke his neck during a game with Surrey Beavers on Oct. 5.
Over 100 past and present players gathered to take a photograph with Campbell’s number 9 rugby jersey. They also signed four giant cards that have been dropped off at the Kelowna General Hospital ICU.
Well known West Kelowna business person Rusty Ensign spoke to the crowd. He broke his neck 32 years ago playing rugby and has been in a wheelchair ever since. He said Campbell’s injury is different than the one that left him paralyzed. He expressed his hope for Campbell’s full recovery.
Along with the emotional support, the event provided financial support, raising $2,000 for the Campbell family.
Rugby Canada will soon have a page on their website to tax deductable donation can be made. As well, the Kelowna Crows will have a link on their website for donation.
The Facebook page Judah Campbell Recovery has over 11,000 likes. The family is providing regular updates there.
Campbell broke two of the vertebrae in his neck, but the spine wasn’t severed, although it’s badly bruised. He had surgery this week. Doctors fused the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae with metal plates and screws. He’s also in traction as part of the treatment.
The big concern right now is a lung infection that has taken hold because he’s having trouble breathing on his own. The concern is the infection will become pneumonia and create more fluid in his lungs.
But there is good news. Campbell has more movement than he did when he arrived at the hospital.
“He’s actually to a point now where he’s bending his knees and he’s able to move his arms,” Kelowna Crows Athletic Society president Jeff Findlay says. “To us there’s great hope.”
Findlay says Campbell is a brave kid and an incredible person.
“I told him the other day I’ll give him three weeks, then I’m going to kick his ass out of bed.”
Kelowna Crows, young and old, gather at Parkinson Rec Centre for a group photo with Judah Campbell's rugby jersey on Oct. 10, 2013.
Image Credit: Contributed
Findlay was also able to supply more details about what happened on that fateful Saturday. He says Campbell fell forward into a ruck and got his chin tucked into his solar plexus.
“It’s a very dangerous position to be in. At that moment you hope nobody hits you.”
It did happen. He was hit from behind which forced his chin further into his chest, snapping his neck.
“It’s nobody’s fault. It was an absolute fluke incident.”
This weekend the Kelowna Crows are holding a fundraising event at Baxter’s Bar and Grill. Canadian rugby great Gareth Rees will be on hand to sign autographs after he pays Campbell a visit in the hospital. He’ll be at the pub from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Findlay says the Campbell family are devote Christians and they believe in the power of prayer.
“So if anybody like minded wants to do that,” he says. “I also say anybody from any walk of spiritual life… send karma, chi or meditate. Send that energy to Judah because he needs it.”
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