BELGRADE — There is almost nothing in the way he plays with his brothers or mugs for the camera to hint that the little boy, less than a year ago, was hit by a truck.

The accident left 3-year-old Kolten James Godin-Churchill with injuries so severe that doctors gave him almost no hope of surviving.

But as far as Kolten has come since that dark night last November, there is one last hurdle to be crossed. Kolten and his family will make that leap at the end of the month when doctors in Boston will attempt to reattach nerves connecting his left shoulder and arm to his spinal chord.

“The goal is to have full use of that arm,” said Kolten’s grandmother, Roxanne Godin.

Success of the surgery itself will depend on the doctors’ skill, but the community will help the family absorb the financial impact during a fundraising event scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 19. Kolten’s Family Fund Day is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons on Route 27.

“We’ve only been here not even two years,” said Jennifer Godin, Kolten’s mom. “People that don’t even know us have come together and done so much for us already.”

Kolten was in a stroller being pushed by his 13-year-old baby-sitter on Route 135 around 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 when the pair was hit by a pickup truck.

Kolten and the baby-sitter were sent flying. By the time he landed in the ditch, Kolten had suffered numerous broken bones, the most severe of which occurred in his upper spine near his brain stem. His head was detached from his spine.

Neither of Kolten’s two older brothers, Kaleb and Khamren, who were 4 and 9 at the time and also on the walk, were hit. Police did not file any charges in connection with the accident.

Kolten was taken by helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland where a neurological surgeon fused one of Kolten’s rib bones to his spine to reattach the base of his skull to his spine. Photos provided by the family of Kolten in his hospital bed show bloody scars and a swollen shut eye on the left side of his face; his neck in a brace and tubes taped to his closed mouth.

Family say the doctor later told them he believed at the time it was unlikely Kolten would live to play with his brothers again.

“A child this age to survive such trauma is just unbelievable,” Roxanne Godin said.

The recovery

Kolten spent three weeks in the hospital and wore a halo to stabilize his head and neck for a few months.

But these days Kolten can be found running around outside, playing with toys, carrying on as though the future had never been in doubt.

“He’s always in good spirits, even in the hospital afterwards,” said Jennifer Godin. “He’s always smiling.”

He still has to watch out for falls, but there are no restrictions on his activity. The only limit is his left arm, which has been virtually useless since the accident. On Aug. 30, surgeons will attempt to reattach the nerves that connect Kolten’s arm with his spine.

“Hopefully within five months he’ll have full use of it,” Jennifer Godin said.

The teenager who was injured in the crash had to have surgeries to repair broken bones in her face and is doing well, Roxanne Godin said.

“For her it was more the emotional part,” she said.

The girl continues to have a friendly relationship with Kolten and his family.

“We’ve never blamed her,” Roxanne Godin said.

Insurance has covered most of Kolten’s medical expenses, but the family has been told to plan on a five-day hospital stay after the surgery. Kolten will be immobile for four weeks after that, Roxanne Godin said.

‘Our miracle child’

Next week’s fundraiser will help offset expenses associated with the trip to Boston and Jennifer Godin’s lost time at work.

The fundraiser is a family event, Roxanne Godin said, rife with baked goods, a barbecue, raffles,and games. There will be a bounce house and Belgrade Fire & Rescue — those who first helped Kolten the night of the accident — will be on hand again with trucks and equipment for children to give close inspection.

Roxanne Godin said she is still looking for volunteers to set up Saturday night and early Sunday morning and during the event itself to run games, paint faces and do other tasks.

Roxanne Godin said her grandson might still suffer long-term affects from his injuries — he could be particularly prone to arthritis — but right now she is daily amazed by Kolten’s resiliency and vigor.

“He’s our miracle child,” she said. “He got a halo, but he didn’t get his wings. To look at this child and see he’s so happy and doing what every other child does is amazing.”

Craig Crosby–621-5642

[email protected]

 

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