It is amazing how your life can change in an instant! On July 1, 2010, both of my sons were in an automobile accident. Will, 21, and 15 year-old Blake were working on a jet ski and had gone three miles up the road in Will’s S-10 truck to get some oil. They were T-boned in the passenger side door by an F-350.

Will was cut and bruised badly, but was able to extricate himself. Inch by inch, rescue workers slowly cut Blake out of the vehicle. When the trauma teams started coming in and giving us his status, it did not look good. He had fractured ribs, scapula and pelvis; his spleen and right kidney were lacerated and he had a traumatic brain injury. Over the next several weeks he received speech, physical and occupational therapy. Once at home he developed a blood clot in his internal jugular vein and had to give himself blood thinner shots daily for six months.



Blake loves football and is good at it.  He was already playing on the Varsity team in 9th grade. At 160 pounds he could squat 415 pounds. After the accident he missed the first week and a half of school because he was completing his outpatient rehab at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In spite of dealing with physical as well as brain injury issues, when he returned he insisted on being treated the same as everyone else, with the exception of being allowed to leave five minutes early for lunch. It was taking him a long time to get from one place to another and the boy loves his food!

My husband is an independent insurance agent, which does not provide benefits. I had recently been laid off, so we had been paying COBRA insurance premiums, which took a chunk out of our retirement accounts. When you withdraw money from such accounts, you have to take twice what you actually need because of taxes and penalties. It doesn’t take long to dwindle down!

This is where Just Heart Foundation came through for us. This foundation took care of deductibles, out-of-pocket stop loss, medications, etc., so we could be there for Blake. Shortly thereafter I found a job with insurance benefits, saving us $980 a month in COBRA premiums. Ours is a success story. The night of the accident we didn’t even know if would have both of our sons. Blake has now finished his first year back at school and is doing great. He has been released by all doctors. He has even been released to play football this year. It has been quite an emotional experience for our family. Blake’s journey inspires us to take life’s challenges one step at a time and never give up.

Like football, life is a game of inches.


Thank you again to Just Heart for all your help!

Patty McDaniel


AuthorRobert Pancake