Fundraiser set for Bob Wagner as he recovers from spinal injury

By Chuck Kajer

A benefit has been scheduled for Bob Wagner, a New Prague area native who was injured December 26, 2004, while vacationing in Mexico. The benefit will be held Friday, May 6, at the Park Ballroom in New Prague.

Wagner is the son of John Wagner of New Prague and the late Betty Wagner. He grew up on a farm north of St. Patrick and graduated from New Prague High School in 1973. He and his wife, Jenni, live in St. Paul.

Bob and Jenni were getting ready to head home after a vacation in Mexico when Bob decided to go into the water one last time. A large wave hit Wagner in the head area and forced him underwater. It is not known if the wave caused the injury or if he struck his head in the sand, but he suffered a broken neck. A doctor, who happened to have seen the wave hit, rescued Bob, saving him from drowning.

Wagner was taken to a hospital in Mexico and stabilized. Family members arranged to have him flown to Minnesota, and he has been at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis since then.

His brother, Charlie, said Bob was scheduled to go to the Courage Center in Golden Valley last week for rehabilitation, but problems with infections and high fevers have delayed that. The rehab will enable him to be as independent as possible.

Wagner had three damaged vertebrae as a result of the accident. He underwent surgery to repair some of the damage, and doctors hope he will eventually be able to regain some function in his arms and legs. Already, he has been making progress with his arms, and just in the last few days, has regained some feeling in his legs, according to the Caring Bridge website that his family has used to keep friends updated on his condition.

Despite a number of setbacks, a pacemaker implant, blood clots in the lungs and numerous infections, family members say that Bob has kept his hopes high for recovering as much as possible.

“He’s doing all right,” said Charlie. “He’s got a good attitude.”

One thing that has helped Bob in his recovery is the large support system. He is one of 12 children, and they have all put in many hours at the hospital. According to Charlie, there was a family member at the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for almost two months.

Charlie said the fundraiser will help with a number of financial needs. According to a letter put out by the family, his special needs and financial needs are changing every day.

The May 6 fundraiser will include a silent auction, dinner and dance. Information on the fundraiser is available in an ad in The New Prague Times, in flyers posted around town, or online at the website www.friendsofbobwagner.com. Tickets are available at West End Liquor, State Bank of New Prague and Community Security Bank. Those looking for information on Bob’s recovery, or who want to leave a message, can go to http://www.caringbridge.org/mn/bobwagner/.

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