It’s a miracle that Paul Jackson of Edgartown is alive today.
On the night of December 3 of last year, the 28-year-old Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate was returning home after dropping off dinner for a friend who was laid up due to a back injury.
At some point he lost control of his older model BMW. The car rolled over a number of times and went over a stonewall before getting lodged deep enough into the woods that it was not visible to passersby.
Mr. Jackson lay unconscious and seriously injured, trapped inside the car overnight.
Fortunately, Edgartown volunteer firefighter Robert Young, was among those traveling the right fork road in Katama early the next morning. On his way to feed his daughter’s horses, Mr. Young was alerted by some debris and skid marks on the road. He pulled over to investigate and discovered Mr. Jackson, just in time to set in motion a lifesaving rescue. Mr. Jackson was extracted from the car with the Jaws of Life and heliported to Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, where he was given a 5-percent chance of survival.
Bonnie Tilton, Mr. Jackson’s mother, says, “In the beginning we were going minute by minute, then hour by hour, then day by day.” The Vineyard native suffered traumatic head injuries and spinal and facial fractures. Incredibly, Mr. Jackson beat the odds and has continued to surprise medical professionals with the extent and speed of his recovery. But he still has a long road ahead of him.
In a few weeks, after spending months off-Island between a series of rehabilitation centers and, most recently, a neurorestorative home in Easton where he has been receiving physical, occupational, and speech therapy, Mr. Jackson will return home. However, although his recovery has surpassed anyone’s expectations, it will still be quite some time before he will be able to return to his job as a plumber and he is going to need caregiver help, which will not be covered by insurance. On top of that, Ms. Tilton and Paul’s father (for whom he is named) have incurred substantial uncompensated expenses traveling back and forth to pay frequent visits to their son over the last five months.
Luckily, Mr. Jackson and his family have a large circle of caring friends who have stepped up to help ease the family’s financial burden. They have set up a fund to help defray the family’s expenses, and next Saturday they will host a benefit at the Portuguese-American club, where they hope to raise a sizable sum to help pay for someone to stay with Mr. Jackson while his family members are at work. He will need 24/7 supervision for months.
To express the family’s appreciation for the help they have already received, Ms. Tilton recently wrote the following: “Our family is filled with gratitude for the devotion of emergency responders, medical persons, family and friends, our bosses, co-workers, and the Martha’s Vineyard community neighborhood for their ongoing support of caring, hope, and compassion. These countless efforts to relieve our emotional, financial, and daily burdens have held our family up and contributed immeasurably to the miracle of Paul’s recovery. We are truly blessed.”
The May 14 fundraiser will start at 5 pm. Food, generously donated by a number of local businesses, will be served until 8 pm. There will be a silent auction and raffles, live music by Good Night Louise and dancing with DJs Island Thunder until midnight. The auction items will include a Bruins jersey signed by team members, fishing charters, kayak trips, paintings by local artists, and dozens of other donated goods and services. Tickets are $25.
Jackson Fund’s Got a Friend
Helping out with the management of funds raised for Paul Jackson is You’ve Got a Friend Foundation (YGAF), a local nonprofit established 12 years ago by George Brush and the late Ed Coogan that offers tax-exempt status for donations and administers funds for families. The organization is made up of a seven-member board. Mr. Brush’s law office provides pro bono legal counsel and administration, and the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank handles all the beneficiary accounts. Foundation administrator Virginia Carmichael says, “We also filter and monitor the expenditure of the funds,” helping to ensure that expenses are prioritized.
YGAF provides neither financial aid nor assistance with fundraising. Its primary purpose is to provide for 100-percent tax-deductible donations and to help establish and manage beneficiary accounts, without any administrative charges. Contributions may be made directly to the YGAF Inc., at the law office of George B. Brush, P.O. Box 1317, West Tisbury, MA 02575. For donations to be tax-exempt, a name and address must appear on a check, with Paul Jackson Fund written in the memo line.