Video created by Jason and Libi Fenley
August 26, 2014 Matt Marhefka's life changed forever...
After work one day, Matt loaded up his dirt bike for what he thought would be a dirt bike ride like any other. Geared up and riding down Powerline Trail in South Lake Tahoe, California, the unthinkable happened. Matt collided head first with a pine tree. Matt was hiked out on a stretcher by Lake Valley paramedics, firefighters, and CHP and transported by ambulance to the airport where a Cal Star helicopter was waiting to fly him to Renown in Reno, Nevada.
Shortly after his arrival in the trauma ICU center, Matt and his family were handed the diagnosis. He had shattered C3, C4, and C5 resulting in permanent paralysis. As soon as swelling had subsided, Matt underwent a risky surgery to fuse his vertabrae. The surgery was a success, however the surgeon informed him that there would be a less than 1% chance for movement below the site of injury and that he would most likely never regain any arm movement. While recovering from surgery, Matt contracted pneumonia and was placed on a ventilator, fighting for his life.
The next 7 weeks was nothing short of intense. The team in the trauma center worked around the clock to stablize Matt's lungs, rid them of the pneumonia, and get him healthy enough to be transported to a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center. Finally, on October 15, 2014 Matt was flown down to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and was admitted into their spinal cord injury trauma intensive care unit. Once there, the team immediately began work to strengthen Matt's lungs and teach him how to breath on his own again.
On November 4, 2014 Matt was finally moved downstairs into the rehabilitation center. There, he began work with the amazing doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other specialists to learn how to live the rest of his with this disability. Over the next few weeks, Matt taught himself to breath on his own again, how to eat again, and eventually ended up with the tracheotomy tube being removed from his neck as he prepared to head home.
Meanwhile, family and friends from South Lake Tahoe and Amador Country raised money and worked hard to prepare home for his arrival. On December 9, 2014 Matt was discharged from the hospital after spending a total of 105 days in ICU and rehabilitation.
Since coming home, Matt has continued his hard work in physical therapy and has been able to regain some arm movement, resulting in being able to drive his wheel chair with a joystick. He has been able to enjoy camping, fishing, and watching dirt bike races again. He continues to wake up every morning with a positive attitude and teach all those blessed to be around him to never give up and keep rolling through all of life's ups and downs.
Project MATT was created in early 2015 as a non profit organization aimed at improving the quality of Matt's life. With the help of friends, family, and donors we have been able to provide Matt with transportation, build a custom accessible bathroom, and most recently purchase a track chair so that Matt can get back out in the wilderness and enjoy it as much as possible.
Today, we are actively raising money through sales of Project MATT merchandise, as well as an annual Friends and Family benefit held in Volcano, California every year. We would like to thank everyone for their continued love and support through this journey.