Jay Roane had taken part in nearly 1,200 jumps since he began recreational sky diving in 1988.
He'd never had an accident, until an outing earlier this summer.
While diving with a friend in St. Louis on June 22, Roane fell from about 20 feet to the ground after turbulent winds caused his parachute to collapse.
Roane, a former Army paratrooper on active duty from 1983 to 1992, suffered a spinal cord injury, three fractured vertebrae and a broken tailbone. His left leg was shattered so badly that he won't be able to put weight on it for five more weeks.
Roane, 51, said he's optimistic he will walk again, likely with the help of braces. “I'm going to work hard to achieve that,” he said.
Roane spent two weeks in a hospital in St. Louis, then was transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln. He returned home Aug. 25, said his wife, Patti Freshman.
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Gretna, where Roane and Freshman are members, is holding a fundraiser Sunday at Werner Park to benefit the couple. Use of the facility was donated for the fundraiser, which is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The suggested donation is $5 for children 12 and under and $15 for adults. Children under age 2 get in free.
The fundraiser will include live music, face painting and a bouncy castle for kids, a silent auction and raffles, said Mary Kaye Eggers, president of the parish council.
“We would love to reach $25,000,” Eggers said.
Roane is a case manager and nurse for a home health care company, but his injuries may prevent him from working for at least a year. Freshman is an operating room nurse at Children's Hospital & Medical Center.
“It's been quite a financial hardship,” said Freshman, who met her husband sky diving 22 years ago.
They've already received $500,000 in bills, Freshman said, and she's paid about $13,000 out of pocket. She doesn't know how much of the medical bills the family's health insurance will cover.
The expenses add up quickly, Freshman said.
“That's why we sold his parachuting gear, and we sold his truck,” she said.
The two nurses have had to get used to a little role reversal. Instead of caring for others, their friends and family have been taking care of them.
“I'm not used to people waiting on me or just not used to much attention,” Roane said.
Eggers is hoping that between 500 and 750 people attend the fundraiser.
“It's just heartwarming when the community comes together to help somebody out when a crisis or disaster has come their way,” Roane said.