Paralyzed Windsor man faces potentially massive medical bills after Michigan skiing accident

Paralyzed Windsor man faces potentially massive medical bills after Michigan skiing accident

In late November, Shawn Florence crashed into a fence while skiing at Pine Knob Ski Resort in Clarkston, Mich.

When he woke up, he couldn't feel anything from his bellybutton down.

"It was just shock, you don't really know what to think and I was also in a lot of pain," he explained. "It's like 'Oh my God, I can't feel my legs. What if I can't ever feel them again?' It's very scary."

The 24-year-old Windsor man was rushed to hospital in nearby Pontiac, Mich. where he learned he also had broken 13 ribs and collapsed his lungs in the crash. A doctor performed emergency spinal surgery to prevent further damage. 

After a week of care in the United States, Florence was finally well enough to be transported back to Canada, but now faces potentially massive medical bills for the treatment he received across the border.

With Florence resting in a hospital bed at Windsor Regional Hospital and awaiting rehabilitation, his girlfriend Tiffany Laporte, who hasn't left his side since the crash, launched a GoFundMe Campaign with a goal of $150,000 to help cover the bills they know are coming.

"We're going to need a lot of support and later on, if we want to continue with rehab that will be something we have to pay for ... we don't live in an accessible home and we're going to need one and a wheelchair for sure," she said.

Staying positive

The campaign has raised more than $15,600 in a single day, something Laporte said has come as a surprise.

"It's really great that our community is so supportive. It's unbelievable how everyone has responded so far," she added. "It's really nice feeling the love in this community."

Florence said he's staying positive with the help of his family and focusing on preparing himself for the lifestyle changes he's expecting once he leaves the hospital. According to doctors, his chances of being able to walk again are slim.

The family is hoping he'll be able to receive treatment at the Parkwood Institute in London, which works with spinal injury patients to help them become as independent as possible.

"It's very awesome that the community is supporting me and that people are able to give. That feels good," he said. "I'm here to show that even if something like this happens to you, and you might never walk again, you can stay strong, you can do it and you can still live a good life where you can do most of the things everybody else does."