Freedom man works to recover from injury
September 28, 2017
FREEDOM, Okla. — July 27 started out as a routine day for Jason Hillman and his wife, Alyssa.
His wife was on her morning run, and Hillman rode alongside her on a 3-year-old colt, working on training it since they breed, raise and train quarter horses. In addition to the quarter horse operation, Hillman, of Freedom, runs a cow-calf operation and a private counseling practice.
As they travelled down the road in the early morning hours the horse spooked and began to run off. He tried to spin the horse around in the middle of the road, and the horse stepped off the side of it. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but the road had a drop-off of around 10 feet. As the two slipped and fell, Hillman managed to get away from the horse so it wouldn't roll on him, but the two plummeted to the ground.
"I twisted and free fell somewhere around 10 and 12 foot, and landed at the bottom of the ditch with the horse and I broke my back in two spots," Hillman said.
His wife had to climb down the ditch and get the horse out so it wouldn't step on Hillman, and she ran the half-mile back to their house to call 911. A nearby nurse and Hillman's brother-in-law returned with her to the ditch where Hillman lay, and waited until an ambulance arrived.
After lifting him out of the ditch on a board, an ambulance took Hillman on a 30-minute ride to Woodward, and he was airlifted to Enid, his hometown. Hillman stayed in Enid for around a week and had surgery. When he broke his back, one of the shattered pieces punctured his spinal cord, Hillman said.
He then was flown to Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation in Oklahoma City and spent around a month there before finally returning home Sept. 1.
Doctors' initial reports were that Hillman would be paralyzed from the waist down and wouldn't be able to walk again.
Now though, he's looking at the possibility of a full recovery.
"I'm gaining mobility and gaining strength ... just yesterday (Sept. 12) I was able to get up on my feet and walk 20 feet with a walker," Hillman said. "My body's healing above and beyond what the doctors could have ever dreamed."
He's had extensive therapy, and said he's seeing big jumps of improvement every day to every couple days.
In a Sept. 15 post on the Jason Hillman Benefit Facebook page, it said Hillman was able to walk more than 180 feet with the walker, and have nearly 100 percent of his body weight on his right leg and about 60 percent on his left.
"That's the plan (to fully recover), I really don't know. My plan is to have a full recovery and that's what we're working really really hard to achieve and just we're waiting to see what my body allows and how much I heal, but that's my goal," Hillman said.
The day after the accident, several of Hillman's friends got together and organized a fundraiser for Hillman and his family.
"As soon as we found out Jason was going to have a long road to recovery, we wanted to do something to try and help him. Three of us got together and started planning. We told him the day after he had surgery," said Jason Nail, of Sharon. The other two friends planning the benefit with Nail were Justin Huber and David Simmons.
The trio organized a rodeo benefit that took place on Sept. 2 at Alabaster Caverns State Park. Frontier Rodeo Co. donated broncos for the benefit. The day included ranch bronco riding, a three-and-one ranch rodeo, a live auction, silent auction, a team roping event, dinner and a dance, and a horse raffle during the day.
Nail said numerous people and organizations donated items for the auction and the day's events. He estimated 400-500 people showed up throughout the day, and a total of around $27,000 was raised.
"We would have loved to be able to write a check for that amount out of our own pocket, but weren't able to. So we set up that benefit to do everything we could to help him financially ... He always comes and helps when you ask him to and has a smile on his face when he's doing it. We do what we can to help each other out," Nail said.
Hillman said the support he's seen from the community and surrounding communities has been both humbling and mind-boggling.
"It's just pretty overwhelming physically, mentally and emotionally, just the army of people that have supported us from day one," Hillman said.
Huber, of Seiling, said getting the benefit rodeo organized and run in a month, and raising the money was a good experience for them and the Hillman family, and he's looking forward to seeing Hillman back to normal in the future.
"I'm so excited for him. He's been through quite a bit. It's going to be good to have him back at 100 percent or even 80 percent, no matter what percent it's (going to) be good to have him back," Huber said. "It's hard to describe when you have a close friend like that that's down, and for them to be able to (most likely) make a full recovery, it's just a great feeling."
While Hillman's looking forward to getting back to work and getting back into his regular routine, there's two parts of his life he's looking forward to the most.
"I plan on chasing my boys around the yard and being able to go dance with my wife. Going into surgery, she told me I had to take her dancing when I got to be healed up," Hillman said. "I'd love to be able to play ball in the yard and chase my boys around, and get back to being a dad and husband."