Like most 18-year-olds, Ruben Casas was looking forward to a vibrant and active life the way he was envisioning. But the former Central Valley High School star baseball athlete - who was one of Central Valley's MVP numerous times - now faces a life as a quadriplegic with no chance of ever walking again following a May 4 accident in a swimming pool.
Ruben was with friends at the time of his accident in San Luis Obispo. He decided to dive into the pool along with everyone else but Ruben dove two feet too far to his right and straight down, causing him to hit his head on the bottom. The crash broke his spine at the C6 and C7 vertebrae. Doctors have told him that the spinal cord injury is so severe that we will never walk again, difficult for anyone to face, let alone one who wanted to devote his life to helping others as a paramedic.
Casas was studying to become an EMT (emergency medical technician) while also studying Criminal Administration to become a police officer at Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo.
The devastating injury has also altered the lives of Ruben's parents, who now must adjust their lives.
Melanie Casas, Ruben's mother, said her family is in need of anyone that can volunteer skills and supplies to create a wheelchair accessible bathroom and bedroom downstairs.
"We tried to refinance but lenders have told us we do not have any equity in our home," said Casas. "We have already spent all of our other resources on medical bills that were not covered. We have no way to accommodate him when he comes home in the manner that he should be cared for. Our present home has a half-bath downstairs and an office as well as a tandem. Our hope is we can find some contractors, volunteers to make these changes for us free of charge."
The family also is in need of a wheelchair ramp outside their home.
Central Valley High School Athletic Boosters Club is organizing an Aug. 22 barbecue fund raiser. The "Pitching In for Ruben" barbecue dinner - cooked by the Ceres Lions Club - is set for the Berryhill ranch, 1912 E. Taylor Road, Ceres. The Friday, Aug. 22 event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets are $25 per person or $40 per couple, with silent and live auction items and dancing. Tickets may be purchased at Central Valley High School, 4033 Central Ave., weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
An effort is underway through hopelive.org (https://m.helphopelive.org/campaign/4621) trying to get donations for the family to help with the medical costs that are not covered for continued physical therapy and items needed for his care. Even with insurance, Ruben will have many uninsured injury-related expenses such as recovery-based therapies, medical expenses, home modifications and medical equipment.
A Facebook page has been set up for the community to help. Called "Pitching in For Ruben," the page can be located and "liked" at https://www.facebook.com/PitchinginforRuben at get out the word.
"He loved the outdoors, nature, water and snow sports, and he is not ready to give up on his dreams, even if he has to take a different path to get there," said Melanie.