Posted by: newperspectives85 | December 7, 2011

Kasey Crute 4.12.11 Cavalier Daily

Support team

Rugby team members rally around injured teammate

By Katie McNally, Life Editor on April 12, 2011

First-year College student Kasey Crute was only a rookie on the women’s club rugby team when she experienced a terrible accident during Spring Break.

Crute was volunteering in Panama with a Global Brigades trip when she sustained severe spinal injuries jumping into a local swimming hole. She shattered her C6 vertebrae and broke several others, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Her delicate health forced her to stay in Panama and undergo multiple surgeries until she was stable enough to return to the United States.

Upon receiving the news of their teammate’s injury, members of the women’s rugby team immediately came to her aid. They began working with Crute’s extended family to help raise money for the many costly surgeries she will have to undergo and for the expense of transporting her from Panama to the University Hospital.

A website was created to help support Crute’s cause, and in recent weeks the rugby team has pooled all of its resources to get donations for At the team’s April 2 qualifying match, it played the game in her honor, drawing in fans with food donated from many local venders and asking for contributions to Crute’s fund. The team won a decisive 32-5 victory against Princeton, simultaneously raising more than $1,400 to support Crute.

Just before the match, the players received the good news that their teammate finally was returning to the United States and would be at the University Hospital on the evening of April 1.

Following its game, the team has continued its efforts to assist Crute and her family. It has reached out to fellow teams in its league and received an outpouring of support, including a large donation from top-ranked Penn State. The team also plans to solicit help from other University organizations and raise money in conjunction with some Corner restaurants.

In response to all the rugby team’s work on her behalf, Crute said, “For being a member of the team for such a short period of time, I’m amazed at how much everyone is doing for me and how much they raised at the game.”

But Crute need not be surprised. Team captain Jennifer Van explained that in a tough sport such as rugby, looking out for your teammates — both on and off the field — is just the nature of the game.

“For 80 minutes you play the craziest sport with rules you may or may not understand, running full speed into another girl with an oblong ball in your hands and so you can’t help but feel a camaraderie with these other equally as bizarre sadomasochistic people,” Van said.

Crute certainly has seen how far that camaraderie extends and undoubtedly will see more support as she begins her long road to recovery.

First-year College student Adriana La Lime, one of Crute’s hallmates, said although Crute is still facing surgeries and perhaps several years of rehabilitation, her family and friends nevertheless are hopeful about her prospects. She said Crute was in good spirits when she visited her and already was showing some progress.

“She is good,” La Lime said. “She is improving from when she was in Panama. She is able to move her forearms and turn her wrists and she has some motion in her thumb and forefinger.”

Crute’s long time friend, first-year College student Maryann Chan, also said Crute was staying positive and looking to the future. “She is very strong and eager to get through rehab and get back to U.Va. as soon as possible,” Chan said in an email.

La Lime said Crute is uncertain whether she will regain feeling in her legs, but that those areas which already have regained feeling only will continue to get stronger.

“We don’t know what she’ll be able to get back yet; therapy will tell us that,” she said.

Crute soon will be transferred from the University Hospital to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a not-for-profit hospital which specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries.

The Shepherd Center not only specializes in medical rehabilitation but also emphasizes the importance of learning to live independently, according to its website.

Crute is firm about returning to school after she completes her treatment and her hallmate said there will be a space for her whenever she is ready. “That’s the goal,” La Lime said. “Kasey wants to graduate from U.Va. and I think U.Va. is going to help her make that happen.”



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