By Jonathan Turner
DAVENPORT — The Pink Panther is missing in Montana.
On Saturday morning, June 1, Will Wolf was pedaling his recumbent tricycle through Montana, working his way through a cross-country trek to benefit the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities. When he was 20 miles west of the north-central Montana town of Havre, he was hit by a car traveling 70 mph. He and the Pink Panther stuffed animal he carried on the trike were flung into the air.
EMTs quickly arrived on the scene and rushed Wolf to Northern Montana Hospital in Havre. He then was airlifted to a trauma center in Great Falls, where he spent four days.
Wolf, 61, and his wife, Laura, own a home in Davenport, but they live primarily in Minneapolis. He had surgery to repair his neck and left arm June 10 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and and he returned there several times for treatment.
Nearly four months after the accident, his arm is still in a mini-cast, but he recently regained motor skills in his left hand. He visited the Creative Arts Academy at 306 W. River Drive for the first time last week.
“I happen to love the arts and education," said Wolf, who was between jobs this year. "My wife came up with the idea to do something for a great cause, and this was the greatest cause I could think of.”
Formerly chief financial officer for Rock Island-based Barjan LLC, Wolf had a goal of raising $100,000 for the CAA. He began the ride that was designed to draw attention to his fundraising campaign May 16 in Seattle. At the time he was hit, he had gone over 800 miles in just over two weeks, including high-altitude climbs through the Cascades and Rocky Mountain ranges. He mainly stayed at motels along the way.
Wolf, who blogged about his journey online, had hoped to reach Davenport by June 22. His ultimate goal was Baltimore, Md., where his mom lives.
Wolf said a cross-country ride was always a dream of his, since it would give him a chance “to meet people and learn their stories,” he said. “The theme as I was cycling through the country really became centered around patience and education. Most of the people I met had some tie-in to education for their kids, doing what's right for their kids.”
"I felt like I got robbed of learning all those people's stories,” Wolf said of his ride being cut short. “I was really looking forward to that. By the same token, when the rehab started, it opened my eyes to how generous and giving people are.”
Before the accident, “I thought, 'I got it made. I got 20 days of nothing but the Plains and Midwest,' " Wolf recalled. “I'm also reflecting on the prior day. Montana's one of those states where they put crosses on the road where people died, and they're metal crosses. You'd notice them.”
“These people didn't know they were going to die in the next five seconds, and at that time I was thinking about the roads where I was, such that you couldn't bike on a shoulder,” he said. “I was thinking, fear or faith. If you had fear, you probably wouldn't do the ride, but you have to have faith that everybody's going to move over.”
Before the ride, Wolf was more worried about other traffic going through bends in the mountains, not the straight, flat roads.
The day he was hit, the CAA put on a benefit talent show, "Applause for a Cause." The students didn't find out about the wreck until the following Monday, after having raised $2,400.
Many students took up his ride for him, and with family and friends, they covered over 4,200 miles by riding bikes and horses, walking, and swimming," said Jessica Taylor, CAA coordinator and development specialist. “It was everybody — everybody was banding together," she said. "We called it 'The Will to Finish.' "
“That was very inspiring. ... Maybe one day I can try again,” Wolf said.
Levia Collman, a CAA seventh-grader, went on bike rides with her family every Sunday over the summer, and they logged their miles to add to the project. Hailey Ross, another seventh-grader, said she thought it was important to support the cause because she loves the arts and sports.
"I wanted to do it because I never heard of someone biking across the country for a school," said seventh-grader Trey Gordon. "I thought that was really cool, not just 'cause it was my school, but it would also make the Creative Arts Academy more open to the public."
We are so touched by the outpouring of support! Our wonderful friends and CAA families are still donating and clocking their miles with us!
We have more than $28,000 in donations and have less than 2,000 miles to go!
Way to go!
So far, the single most miles walked by an individual is our very own CAA student Jack T. with 207 miles! That's some serious mileage in just two weeks!
Keep it up! Email us your miles at email@example.com or post them on our website!
It's difficult to believe that it was only 11 days ago that Will was struck by a vehicle driving 70+ mph while cycling through Northern Montana to fulfill his dream of cycling coast to coast and raising funds for the Davenport, IA based Creative Arts Academy.
Today is our 5th visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
If you have ever been to Mayo, then you know this place is just simply awe-inspiring. The care you receive from the admissions desk, to the technicians, nursing staff, PAs, Fellows, doctors is professional and consistent. They treat hundreds of thousands of people in the various clinics across the US and yet they treat you as if you are their only patient.
Last Saturday, I signed Will up for a 90-minute reiki session. He was not very forthcoming about the experience but found it curious. I suspect reiki is a very personal experience. Mostly I was hoping this session would help heal him emotionally. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be struck by a vehicle, flung 80 feet, knocked unconscious, and have your breathing stopped. It must be horrifying.
Will ordered his new bike yesterday. They think it will take 4-6 weeks for delivery. I am hoping for 4-6 months for delivery and an early winter.
I am getting him out to be with people, even if just for a short period of time. Our apartment community in Minneapolis had a wine tasting last week. We attended. We briefly went to a Gin party held by friends in the apartment community, and we had breakfast on Sunday with a friend. Will's stamina is short but it's important for him to get out and be with people. Everyone has been so welcoming and caring.
We will try to visit Davenport as soon as Will is able to travel as Davenport is a place of healing for him. The home he created, the neighbors and friends are all a second family for him.
The Davenport-based CAA students as well as QC friends are putting in the miles to help Will complete the remaining 2,575 miles of his journey. There was a walk-a-thon by the students. Last weekend 20 Quad City cyclists biked 107 miles in honor of Will. We are grateful for everyone's effort to complete his ride.
Will is having his first surgery this morning. They are addressing "The Terrible Triad" of the elbow. (You can Google that.) They will repair all three elements of the fracture and depending on the condition of the radial head in the elbow, they may have to insert a prosthesis. Will was thinking that perhaps he could be a pitcher for the Orioles with his bionic arm. They are having such a terrible season that he thinks he may be able to help. (Yes, his sense of humor remains.)
The plan is to perform the surgery arthroscopically, however, they may have to abort and perform a larger incision. This will impact the recovery timing. Will was asking if there was a chainsaw nearby. The humor continues.
He has been admitted to Mayo hospital and depending on the surgery and his post-op pain, he may have to stay the night.
I am sitting across the street from the hospital at the local Starbucks. The waiting room is filled with people and quite frankly, right now I need to be in a place with a higher energy and where life is almost normal. The hospital has my cell phone number and they will text me his progress.
There has been an outpouring of love and support from so many people regarding his recovery. We are humbled by this affection.
We are taking each day one day at a time. Thank you for your love and support. Prayers and well wishes are welcomed.
Laura and Will
Thank you so everyone who has reached out with their mileage and all who have walked!
8th Grade Class
A group of 20 QC Cyclists came together to bike 107 miles for Will!
Congrats to everyone who performed and thank you to all who supported this important cause. Thank you to the 8th Grade Student Ambassadors - our Wolfpack - for their hard work in planning and executing the event. This idea came up suddenly and the event was planned in less than three weeks! We could not have done it without the support of each and every one of you!
"Students take up fundraiser when cyclist struck by car." Havre Daily News in MT covers CAA4CAA story
"Students of a school a man was raising funds for are taking up his fundraiser after he was thrown some 80 feet from the highway when struck by a vehicle east of Hingham on U.S. Highway 2 Saturday.
“Thats what bothers him more than anything, he wasn’t able to complete the fundraiser,” cyclist Will Wolf’s wife, Laura Murphy-Wolf said Wednesday in a telephone interview from The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Wolf had raised $25,000 of his $100,000 goal for The Creative Arts Academy in Davenport, Iowa, and traveled 925 miles of his 3,500 mile journey when he was struck Saturday, Murphy-Wolf said."
"She (Laura) said the staff at Benefis, once they knew the story, gave Wolf a new name.
“They were saying, ‘Hey, I met the Miracle Man,’” she said."
Everyone at the Creative Arts Academy is so grateful to Will, Laura and everyone who has spent time working on this project or donated to the cause. Please support the WILL to Finish by clocking your miles when you walk, run, bike, move on horseback - ANY way to support Will!
Read the article in its entirety here.
We've had an outpouring from our CAA families and friends wishing Will well and praying hard!
We met with Will's Wolfpack and we're off and moving on our new CAA4CAA adventure.
Our students are taking over for Will - in honor of everything he’s done for them - and they will be biking, walking, running, on horseback - moving any way they can to make up the 2,650 left on his journey. They're arranging meet ups and challenges!
The Wolfpack will send me weekly updates. The goal is to get 2,650 miles by the end of the summer. We're calling it "The Will to Finish."
They have their first walk already planned - ALL 8th graders will be walking from the Sudlow to Garfield park on Thursday for their end of school field day - 2 miles round trip x 50 students = 100 miles!
Will inspired these students so much!
So join us! Bike, Walk, Move Around and send us your miles and send photos of your activities!!!! There is nothing Will would love more than to see your photos! firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you haven't already donated - that's another great way to support! gofundme.com/caa4caa
Hello Friends and Family,
On June 1st at 9.30 AM MT, I was struck from behind by a vehicle driving 65-70 mph just east of Hingham, MT.
Many people stopped to assist until EMTs arrived. They ensured I remained alert. Whoever the good samaritans were, thank you.
EMTs immediately arrived on the scene. I would like to thank them for their care and rushing me to Northern Montana Hospital in Havre.
At Havre they quickly accessed my condition and decided to send me via helicopter to the trauma center at Benefis in Great Falls. I would like to thank the Havre ER staff for their care and quickly assessing my needs.
On the helicopter ride one of the EMTs started to sing. I knew the tune and sang along.
Laura was in Davenport, IA, so that she could attend the Talent Show which was organized by the Creative Arts Academy students in order to raise funds for our cause. She left before the event started and joined me in Great Falls that same evening.
The talent show was a success, beating the $2,000 goal and raising $2,250+. Thank you to all who participated and attended. Also, thank you, CAA Wolfpack, for your support during this endeavor.
At Benefis Hospital in Great Falls they are tending to my injuries and although I will be recovering for awhile, the outlook is good. I am receiving excellent care and I would like to thank the Benefis staff for their support.
The recumbent trike is heavily mangled and no longer functional so unfortunately I will be abandoning my journey and focusing on recuperation. I am already thinking about what color my next trike will be and when I can ride.
I will be convalescing in Minneapolis with Laura and continue my care but as soon as I am able I will be back in the Quad Cities.
If you have not yet donated, there is still time. gofundme.com/caa4caa
I thank you all for your love and support while on this journey.
3,600 Ft Elevation Gain
Moral - Change is Inevitable
The day started off as usual - a climb! The last major climb for a while. The temps were in the low 40’s and clear. The climb went well and in some way I am going to miss these trees, the scent of pines, the sound of roadside waterfalls and having a point to focus on to have as a goal...make it to the bend…make it to that clearing…make it to where that car went out of sight. All were immediate goals so I could feel good about the climbs.
As I hit the divide, Marias Pass, a little emotional release happened. The western mountains had been taken - an accomplishment in totality - but really just a segment in the grand scheme. Joni Mitchell’s Circle Games was playing which is big favorite of PIF’s and mine. I could hear PIF’s voice, “And the Seasons Go Up and Down.”
A couple days ago, when I left Ione, WA I had heard about this couple that were riding across America on a tandem. Their destination is New York. When I pulled into town I saw a tandem and went into the grill where they were eating. I approached them and told them I heard about you guys a couple days ago and would enjoy hearing your story.
Meet Steve and Carol. They have been long distance touring since 2008. They prefer a tandem as it feels safer and they can always easily communicate while riding. They are going to North Dakota to visit family then flying to New York to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Later in the summer they are coming back out to North Dakota and finishing the trip. Steve made furniture as a career and must be incredibly talented as he was successful doing this as a career. I am regretting that we didn’t exchange cell numbers. I’m hoping our paths cross again.
Tonight I am having a home made dinner with Jon and Linda who I met in Columbia Falls last Sunday. As I check into the Mountain Pine Motel I say to Ryan who owns the motel, “I think I am having dinner with your Aunt and Uncle.” He says, “yes, and I may be joining you.” The motel has been in the family a couple of generations. Rooms are nice, clean, well laid out. I walk across the street to a little grocery store to buy some supplies, do laundry, and relax for about an hour.
Dinner…what a treat! Jon and Linda have a log cabin built right on the edge of the park. Their views of the mountains (when clear) must be spectacular. Unfortunately, there is haze from a wildfire in Canada more than 300 miles north. “A WILDFIRE IN MAY.” That’s a problem - wildfires were only an August - maybe September - event.
Dinner attendees left to right
Steve, Ryan, Mira, Ashley, Tom, Linda, Jon
Dinner was fabulous!!!! A great salad, cheese bread and Jon made a chicken pasta with veggies and cheese dish. What a treat! I am so thankful they invited me and on a very special evening - Mira graduated the first grade tonight!!! The conversation was wide ranging. We shared our family stories, some careers, and the topics covered everything from healthcare access, water supply, impact of wildfires on tourism. So, a little more background… Jon and Steve are brothers, another brother has passed. Their family has been in the area since the 1890s. Their great grandfather was a merchant in Browning. Tom’s family has been in the area since the 1860s. It was great listening to them share stories about the area, serving on volunteer fire department, water commission and such. What a very nice tight knit and incredibly caring family. While Ryan is getting the motel reenergized Ashley teaches at the local school. She teaches the 6th through 8th grade. She has eight students. Tthe school has four rooms. When Steve and Jon attended it had 2 or 3 rooms. As I listened to the stories, Jon and Steve’s parents made a decision when they were young that the boys needed more diversity and more interaction than the isolation of living in East Glacier. Even though there was some hardship they decided to take the boys to Spokane for schooling. A Recurring Theme Intersects with Prior Blogs.
Jon meet Linda who was from the Bay Area. Of course she had to make an adjustment from the pace of life in San Francisco to here. Easily understood. It’s easy to see and hear that Jon, Steve and Tom’s ancestors were successful. They have had and their kids may have a better life than the prior generation.
I think about the Wolfpack and their friends. Fortunately, Davenport and the CAA have a diverse student population. The school has many facilities and equipment that these remote schools don’t offer. We need to treasure the relationships with our family, friends, and peers. We need to appreciate the opportunities that are in front of us and go for them…..