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Kelowna mother of 6 breaks neck on beach rope swing; fundraiser launched

Ben Stanford is fundraising to help care for his wife
Rachel Stanford is recovering from a broken neck after using the rope swing at Gyro Beach in Kelowna. (Contributed/Ben Stanford)

In sickness and in health, Ben Stanford is fundraising so he can stay by his wife’s side while she is on a long road to recover.y

A GoFundMe was started by the Kelowna man after his wife, Rachel, broke her neck while spending time with family on the May long weekend.

“We were at Gyro Beach and my wife and kids were playing in the water. I saw Katie and Rachel were about to go off the rope swing and the phone was handy so I just grabbed it and started filming. I saw Katie go off the rope swing, I filmed my other daughter in the water, and then I turned the camera back and I caught Rachel go off the rope swing and I caught the accident.”

Stanford said his wife was screaming when she came up from under the water and his initial thought was that she was reacting to the chilly water.

“I started running toward her and my eldest Katie said that it was mom’s tooth, so I thought that we were going to go looking for a tooth. I ran into the water and when I heard ‘Ben ow,’ and her hands were up going toward her neck a little bit. As I got closer I realized there was blood coming from her forehead, her nose, and her mouth.”

Stanford works as a care aide for Kelowna General Hospital, and thanks to his basic first aid training for being able to calmly help his wife.

“My ten-year-old actually ran and grabbed the phone and knew because Rachel had shown her how to call 911, which is very impressive, and she brought the phone over to me and had already contacted 911 with an ambulance on the way.”

Stanford said it wasn’t until the next day that reality set in.

“The medical knowledge is good, but really it’s the first aid training. Someone can get what I have for first aid training on a weekend. Of course, I have a little bit more with care aide, but first aid - I’ve said in every interview - I can’t say enough good things about being first aid trained.”

Now, the father of six is fundraising to make up for lost wages while he’s off work to care for Rachel.

“We’re set up at home. There’s just no way to get comfortable right now,” Stanford said, noting his wife is in a world of pain and will be in a collar for eight to ten weeks.

Thankfully surgery isn’t anticipated right now, but Rachel has to go regularly for X-rays and it isn’t out of the question entirely. It is expected to be a year before Rachel can go back to normal life.

Donations have been pouring in over the past few days, and by the afternoon of May 28, the money was just a few hundred dollars shy of the $10,000 goal.

“The amount of outpouring of support we’ve got, we’ve had people offer to pick up driving for us or to sit in a give us rest breaks while I go out. We’ve had people offer food and to make meals. Honestly, it’s more than we’ve asked for already… I look at the donations page and I see names that I recognize and I see a lot that I don’t and that really speaks volumes.”

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Annual FireSmart Family Day sparks fire preparedness in West Kelowna


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About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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