For the last seven years, UF Health Jacksonville has held their annual Night for Heroes charity gala to celebrate their TraumaOne team and raise funds to support its critical trauma program. In order to help show the immense contribution of TraumaOne, the event honors and highlights a survivor each year; an individual helped and even healed by the program’s team of physicians, nurses and other caregivers, along with colleagues at Brooks Rehabilitation and emergency responders.
This year’s event, the 8th Annual A Night for Heroes, to be held at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach on Feb. 7, will honor Tim Callahan, a Jacksonville man who was severely injured playing football, as well as fifty of the medical professionals who helped him beat incredible odds and return to a normal life.
During a flag football game in July 2010, Callahan was instantly paralyzed from the neck down when an opposing player landed on top of his head, breaking two of his vertebrae. He was taken immediately to TraumaOne, where surgery to stabilize his neck became the first of many, many steps to regain full use of his arms and legs.
All who assisted Callahan at TraumaOne and Brooks Rehab will be singled out and thanked at the gala, highlighting not only Callahan’s story but illustrating the work they do every day, for thousands of patients each year. “Tim is just one of many examples of what our highly-skilled employees do every day at UF Health,” said Russ Armistead, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville. “Every day we have people rushed into our trauma unit with severe, life-threatening injuries, and the effort and compassion that goes into their care is unmatched. It makes me incredibly proud to be a part of this organization.”
Callahan’s story is indeed incredible. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who cared for me, including the doctors and nurses at UF Health,” he says. Now coaching basketball and leading his own nonprofit, the Tim Callahan Foundation, to inspire underprivileged children with free, faith-based sports camps, Callahan has certainly beat the odds that favored his being a quadriplegic for life. He has even celebrated two major milestones—one last flag football game, and becoming a father after many years of trying with his wife, Jamie. The Callahans’ son was born just a few days shy of the 4-year anniversary of his accident.
“When the accident first happened I was devastated, frightened and didn’t know how this would end, but it changed my life,” Callahan says. “I can’t thank the people who cared for me enough. I’m looking forward to honoring them as they honor me.”
TraumaOne is indeed the one place in our area that can handle unexpected traumatic injuries like Callahan’s, as it is the only Level I adult and pediatric trauma center in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia with specialized surgeons on hand twenty-four hours a day.
Last year’s gala brought in over $160,000, which was used toward the purchase of new equipment. For more information or to purchase tickets call 244-1060 or go to anightforheroes.com.