SAN MARCOS — A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For 16-year-old Christian Kingsley, that first step will be the hardest part. The San Marcos teen was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on Nov. 23, 2008, and it is anyone’s guess whether he will ever walk again.
It should have been an easy ride — just a quick off-road trip up unchallenging fire roads with his father and a group of younger riders. When one of them fell behind, Christian went looking for him. He never came back.
To this day, Christian still is unclear on what happened. When his father found him, he was on the ground saying he felt disconnected from his legs. Doctors determined at the hospital that his spinal cord had been severely crushed.
“It was just a really weird, freak accident,” Mark Casillas, who was also on the ride, said. “He was a very responsible rider. By no means a daredevil on a motorcycle.”
It will be a long and expensive road to recovery. Christian is in a full-body brace whenever he is not in bed. His father has installed new fixtures in the bathrooms and remodeled his bedroom. Therapy will be the most pricey issue. Perseverance and the severity of the wound figure less in healing spinal injuries than access to money, according to Christian’s aunt, Christine Jones. Each week of therapy at a Project Walk rehabilitation center costs $1,500, none of it covered by insurance.
“The capability is out there to get him to be able to walk again … but it’s a matter of whether people can come up with the money for that kind of care,” Jones said.
Luckily for Christian, he doesn’t have to go this journey alone. Christian was joined by hundreds of his friends, teachers and coaches at a fundraising 5-kilometer run in Hollandia Park the morning of Jan. 17. A group of them wore T-shirts that each had one letter to spell out “We love you Christian!”
“That was really the first time since the accident that he’d been out in the community for any amount of time,” his father Tom Kingsley said. “The whole time he was there, he was surrounded by friends and people who supported him which put a smile on his face the whole time.”
“I think he went home that night feeling pretty awesome,” Casillas said.
The event netted more than $5,000. In addition to Project Walk therapy, Tom Kingsley plans to put some of the money toward the purchase of a machine that will electrically stimulate Christian’s leg muscles to keep them in shape for rehabilitation. They typically cost $10,000 to $15,000.
“Everything within the medical industry is just outrageously overpriced,” Tom Kingsley said. “That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The family has already planned several more events to keep the momentum going. A Ventura County event on Jan. 24 raised nearly $7,000. The next event will be held at the Escondido Ice-Oplex from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Jan. 31. A “Rock for Christian” event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at The Jumping Turtle in San Marcos. There will also be a dine-in at Shakey’s Pizza in Oceanside from 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 17. For more information, visit christiankingsleyfund.com.