Miner benefit raises $9,200 for expenses

RANGELY — At Saturday’s community fundraising events for Celena Miner, it was if she was right there, in the same room.
And she was, thanks to video technology.
A number of fundraisers were held Saturday, ranging from a car wash, a community garage sale, a bake sale and a barbecue, to kids’ activities such as face painting, horseback rides and water games in the park.
A highlight was the chance to see and talk to Celena, by way of a Web camera.
More than $9,200 was raised, said Dr. Debra Salter, one of the event’s organizers.
“This is three times what I even dared hope for,” Salter said.
Not that people’s generosity surprised her.
“This is a such a wonderful community and gifts given were a reach for so many in these hard financial times,” Salter said. “I am truly touched, though not surprised, by the community response. That is the reason we live here — the people are fantastic.”
Miner suffered a spinal injury in a serious car accident May 13. She is currently at the Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, where she is undergoing intensive physical therapy.
“They keep her pretty busy, all day, Monday through Friday,” said Sandy Payne, co-owner of Giovanni’s restaurant, along with her husband, John, where Miner worked as a hostess and waitress.
The Paynes recently visited Miner in the hospital.
“It was great to see her,” Sandy said.
“Her spirits are good,” John added. “If anybody can go through what she’s gone through, and do well, it’s her. She’s always been a hard worker.”
Miner, who will be a senior at Rangely High School, hopes to graduate with her class next spring.
“As soon as she gets out of here, she will go right back to start school with her class,” said her mother, Betsy Miner.
Celena, 17, is scheduled to remain in the hospital for therapy for three months.
“But if she needs more therapy, she will be here longer,” her mom said.
Celena is able to move her arms, her mom said, but her hands won’t open all the way. She uses a special velcro device, attached to her hand, so she can do things like brush her teeth.
“She can write, she can do her own e-mailing, she can surf the Internet,” her mom said. “They are teaching her how to support her own trunk. She will be able to sit up on her own and transport herself in and out of a wheelchair.”
As for her attitude, Betsy Miner said her daughter is in good spirits.
“She smiles all the time,” her mom said. “She’s laughing and joking. She can use her arms, so she will give you a hug.”
Celena’s younger brother, Micheal, 14, also was involved in the accident, but suffered minor injuries. He received stitches on his ear and his knee and had glass fragments in his hand and head. He was released from the hospital the day after the accident.
“He’s doing really, really good,” Betsy Miner said.
Miner said the entire family has been touched by the community’s outpouring of love and concern.
“We are so grateful to everybody,” she said. “Everybody has just been awesome to us, the way the community has pulled together and stood behind us and supported us.”
Some of those who helped with the car wash were classmates of Celena’s.
“The kids have done a real good job,” said Jeff Rector, who helped organize the car wash.
Patti Tipton, who organized the horseback rides, said it was good to see and talk to Celena.
“She said she never wants to drive a car again,” Tipton said. “She used to have a horse, so I told her my horses are her horses.”
Tipton is a believer in equine therapy, and said there are special saddles made for paraplegics.
“There’s something magical about a horse,” she said.
There was certainly something magical about Saturday’s events.
Celena had a tracheotomy, so her voice was pretty weak, but you could tell by the smile on her face, she enjoyed seeing her friends back in Rangely.
“It was a really big day,” Betsy Miner said. “For people to be able to see and talk to her.”