It’s been a long ride home for Dana Kjelgaard – and the journey still isn’t over.
On Nov. 11, Kjelgaard – known as “Big D” – suffered life-threatening injuries in a motorcycle accident on Tin Top Highway northwest of Granbury when his Harley-Davidson left the roadway and hit a tree. He was taken to the ICU at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth with a traumatic head injury, a collapsed lung, two cracked vertebra in his neck and several other broken bones.
Now the 47-year-old military veteran is in Acute Care at Texas Health Specialty Hospital in Fort Worth, and the date of his release remains unknown. Kjelgaard’s longtime girlfriend and family friend Mallory O’Rourke said that even after leaving there, he will be placed in either a progressive rehabilitation facility or a nursing home.
She has announced that a special fundraising event for Kjelgaard – Big D’s Bike Show and Benefit – is set for Saturday, April 27, featuring a motorcycle ride and auction.
All proceeds will go to the expenses and care of Kjelgaard, she said.
O’Rourke said that Kjelgaard was “DOA” when he arrived at the hospital the day of the accident, and reportedly was without oxygen for 22 minutes. Doctors put him in a medically induced coma for the first few days in the hospital. She said now he can talk, especially if he gets angry, and responds to simple questions.
She noted that, even after insurance, bills for his care are in the thousands of dollars. She said his employer, Total Equipment, kept him on for three months after the accident, and now he is on COBRA insurance.
“The family is desperately trying to maintain his home, his finances and everything that is familiar with Dana,” O’Rourke said. “If he is allowed to come home, familiarity will be key in providing his cognitive healing.”
It is uncertain whether he will be able to return to work, she noted.
The fundraising event will be centered around VFW Post 7845, 3670 Highway 377 West in Granbury.
A bike ride will start at 10 a.m. and will end back at the VFW post by 2 p.m., which is when lunch will be served ($10 per person or $15 per couple). The meal will include a dinner plate and a soda. The event includes live Southern rock, country and bluegrass music. Door prizes will be given.
There will also be an auction, starting at about 3:30 p.m. Items may be donated for the auction until April 26.
For the bike show, winners for Best in Show, Vintage (pre-1985) and Most Radical will be decided by ballot of the riders.
In March, the Dana Kjelgaard Benefit Account was set up at First National Bank to handle cash donations.
Any of the bank’s seven branches in Hood County will accept donations to benefit Kjelgaard.
Event organizers said everyone is welcome, but young children should not be brought to the event, and minors will need to be monitored at all times.
For more information, go online (http://www.justmali.com/Dana.html), or call O’Rourke at 817-680-3674.
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