$80K raised in one day for former pro biker mysteriously paralyzed
Published Friday, January 13, 2017 1:51PM PST Last Updated Saturday, January 14, 2017 11:51AM PST
Hundreds of donations and messages of support from around the world are pouring in for a former pro mountain biker left paralyzed after bursting a blood vessel.
A staggering $69,000 and counting had been raised for Andrew Cho by 7 p.m. Friday, less than a day after friends started a crowdfunding campaign aimed to help him adjust to the new reality. By Saturday morning, the total had reached more than $82,800.
The 29-year-old began experiencing dizziness and numbness in his neck and limbs while out for dinner with friends Jan. 6.
After returning to his apartment early to rest, he collapsed face-down and was completely paralyzed from the neck down. Unbeknownst to him, Cho had burst a blood vessel in his C3 and C4 vertebrae.
His best friend believes where he fell saved his life: Cho's phone landed just 10 inches away from his body, and he was able to drag his body to it using only his chin.
"He should have been dead. He was able to get to his phone by inching towards it. It took five tries with his tongue – but he got Siri and used voice command to call 911," Danny Brody said.
Firefighters had to pry his apartment door open to get to him.
Just how the blood vessel burst is still unknown to doctors, and Cho remains in the spinal unit ICU at Vancouver General Hospital after undergoing emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his back. His chin is still bloodiest from using it to crawl for help.
Cho has regained limited mobility in his right side, but movement is still very limited, according to the fundraiser. Friends are hoping to raise at least $75,000 for the medical expenses he'll incur because of the spinal cord injury, including home and vehicle modifications and personal assistance.
"He's going to have to relearn every movement. It's not going to be easy," Brody said.
"He's determined to walk out of there, and we're doing all we can to support him."
Cho, who works as the digital marketing manager for GT Bicycles, was a professional rider for several years, and was in excellent health.
"He's an integral part of the team and a good friend to many in the company and industry. We wish him a very speedy recovery," a company spokesperson told CTV Vancouver.
Cho's job took him around the globe to biking competitions, including Crankworx and World Cup events, and he quickly met friends wherever he went, said Brody.
News of his injury quickly spread on the cycling and mountain biking site PinkBike.com. On a forum page, hundreds of commenters from Canada and the U.S., all the way to the UK, Germany, Brazil, France and Australia shared their love, prayers and fond memories.
"The mountain bike community is a tight-knit crowd, and everyone here at the office is pulling for you," Rocky Mountain Bicycles wrote in a social media post sharing the news.
"Andrew is one of the most positive guys I've ever known. Please send healing vibes his way," Andrew Sherry wrote on Facebook.
GT Bicycles released a video with the hashtag #GotChoBack with messages of support from riders and friends from the cycling community worldwide.
Friends and family are "overwhelmed" with the support, and so many people want to visit Cho in hospital Brody had to set up a Google appointment calendar.
"He's the last person on earth this should happen to," Brody said. "He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body."