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Fundraiser planned for local resident paralyzed after traffic accident

By KARLEE STEFFANNI • Updated Aug 31, 2017 at 12:23 AM

NEW LONDON — A poker run and chicken barbecue fundraiser will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles for New London resident Ethan Collins.

Collins was left paralyzed from the neck down following an accident that took place on the evening of May 6.

Ginger Nickoli, a member of the team organizing the September fundraiser, said the purpose is to raise money to help Ethan and his family with expenses associated with the accident, as well as necessary accommodations for his return home.

“He has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but he has a wonderful network of family and friends to help him succeed,” Nickoli said.

Registration for the fundraiser will begin at 1 p.m. Sept. 30. The chicken dinner will be served from 6 to 8 p.m. and the band Low Rider is scheduled to perform at 8:30 p.m. There will be a cash prize for the poker run best and worst hands, as well as 50/50, door prizes and raffles. 

Wristbands for the event may be purchased ahead of time at Mickey Mart in New London, Greenwich, Norwalk, Sandusky, Huron, Birmingham or Wakeman as well as the Eagles in New London.

At 7:45 p.m. May 6, Collins was driving on I-76 between Youngstown and Akron when a large tree fell out of the wooded area adjacent to the roadway. The tree landed on top of his 1998 Chevrolet Silverado, crushing the vehicle he was inside.

Collins fractured and dislocated two of his cervical vertebrae and initially was transported to the intensive care unit at Summa Akron City Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

Following his surgery, Collins was moved to the surgical ICU at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus for recovery. Six weeks after the accident occurred, he was transported to Atlanta to begin rehabilitation at a spinal rehabilitation facility. As of Aug. 10, sources close to Collins and his family said he was discharged and able to return to his home in New London.

Collins is the eldest child of Rodney and Michelle Collins, both longtime New London residents. His father is a paramedic for North Central EMS and his mother is a 4-H adviser and office manager at New London Reservoir Campground. His younger siblings include Emily, a senior at EHOVE Career Center this year and Zachery, who is set to begin fourth grade at New London Local Schools.

Collins graduated from Pioneer Career & Technology Center welding program in 2013, then began the ironworker apprenticeship program through the Ironworkers Local 550 Union. Collins was expected to graduate as a journeyman in June 2017. The accident has altered the future for both Collins and his fiancé, Emily Johnston, who were in the process of purchasing their first home at the time.

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