Travis Stewart has a long road to recovery, but he also has some dedicated supporters working to help him travel it.
Stewart, a married father of two elementary school aged girls, was in a brutal car wreck April 7 that severed his spinal cord, broke several ribs and left him needing surgeries and rehabilitation. The Dalton resident had to be airlifted to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga after he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his 2005 Toyota Sienna on U.S. Highway 41, according to friends and officials.
He was the only person in the one-car wreck when his vehicle struck an embankment, overturned and hit a tree.
At least one surgery and several days of rehabilitation later, Stewart is at Shepherd Center in Atlanta recovering. Close friends James and Tara Adkins are among several supporters who are organizing fundraisers to help offset the family’s expenses as Stewart’s wife is required to stay with her husband during rehab and is unable to work during his expected two to six months of rehab.
The first fundraiser is at Chick-fil-A on Walnut Avenue on Monday from 5 to 8 p.m.
“All you do is come in and say you’re dining for Travis, and they’ll donate a portion of what they make to him and his family,” Tara Adkins said.
James Adkins said he’s known Stewart since high school and the two are close friends. He said Stewart is a family-oriented man who had recently changed from a job that kept him on the road for months at a time to one close to home so he could spend more time with his girls.
“He’s in a lot of pain, but all things considered, I think he’s doing pretty good,” James Adkins said. “He’s alive. That’s the main thing.”
Supporters are also selling “Team Travis” wristbands and T-shirts and are asking people interested in helping to contact them through their Facebook page, “Prayers and Support for Travis Mertz Stewart.” Information about a yard sale and other fundraising information will be released on the page as organizers make plans. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 1,000 people had “liked” the page.
Tara Adkins said the response from friends and others in the community has been overwhelming and is very appreciated.
“Him and his family need all the prayers and support they can get,” she said. “He’s still got a long ways to go, and it’s going to be quite a journey for him.”