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GF teen hurt in motorcycle crash to get 3-wheel bike, hand-control car

A fundraiser this past weekend made pretty certain that Ben Johnson will be able to obtain a special three-wheeled bike that will be another step toward his recovery from a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson holds his nephew, Kaedyn Johnson, during a visit over Christmas during Johnson?s rehabilitation in a Denver hospital.

A fundraiser this past weekend made pretty certain that Ben Johnson will be able to obtain a special three-wheeled bike that will be another step toward his recovery from a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

Johnson, who turned 19 last month, was driving his motorcycle Oct. 19 in the south end of Grand Forks when he lost control on a curve, hit the curb and then a mailbox, severing his spine as well as breaking a couple of ribs and other injuries.

He's gone through a lot, including two months of rehabilitation as the well-known Craig hospital in Denver, coming back from the trauma that has left him paralyzed from his mid-chest down.

Now, he's ready this week to get fitted for the high-end Force R Handcycle Handbike that will help him be more independent.

"And this week, he will get his car, a Toyota Scion, fitted with hand controls, so he can drive," said his father, the Rev. Nathan Johnson.

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Ben has two older brothers, and his parents, Nathan and Mary Johnson, are pastors of Freedom Church downtown on DeMers Avenue in Grand Forks.

His father had the unusually happy opportunity Sunday evening to say what didn't seem in the cards six months ago: "He's out with friends."

The pastor laughed at the need once again to have to remonstrate with his son to spend a little more time at home once in a while.

"It's a nice problem to have," Johnson said.

Saturday's benefit at Ski and Bike Shop, 1711 S. Washington, topped off a weeks-long effort to raise the money for the special three-wheeler, which lists at more than $6,000.

The Ski and Bike Shop is offering a reduced price to Johnson, and the Vessel Christian Foundation, a local nonprofit, has offered to put up matching funds.

QFM Radio in Grand Forks and Fosston, Minn., has led the way on much of the fundraising.

Pastor Johnson said all the help is much appreciated.

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Cary-Sue Hendrickson, who attends Freedom Church, has worked on other fundraising projects for Ben and his family, who she says have offered so much to others in the community in the four years they have lived here.

"They have had to completely remodel their house," she said. The split-foyer home needed a small elevator installed, and Ben's room and bathroom needed renovation for his wheelchair.

Knowing Ben has made it such a painful thing to watch, while being a great encouragement at the same time, Hendrickson said.

"This kid was so active," she said. "And he still has the drive." Seeing your youngest child hurt so bad is worse, of course, than most things for a parent and a test of faith for any Christian, even a pastor, Johnson said.

"One has to dig down deep to realize what your faith is made of. It's so easy to focus on things we don't know or we don't have or things we have lost."

The family is looking at what they have, Pastor Johnson said.

A physician in Minneapolis told the family Ben seemed to be a miracle already because most such traumatic breaks in a spine end up slashing the aorta, leading to a quick death.

"He was literally a half-inch from death," Johnson said. "So the fact he's alive is a miracle and the fact he has the use of his hands and arms is a miracle. That's the difference between him being fully independent and . . ."

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Anyone wishing to get involved can contact QFM Radio at (701) 757-4120.

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