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Riding for Drew

Mary Patrick has spent the past two months in hospitals, not because she’s sick, but as support for her son.

Drew McKinney, of Wheelersburg, fell more than 80 feet while hiking with seven friends at Lockegee Rock Summit in Morehead, Ky., in March. The Morehead State sophomore was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center trauma center and has been in a coma since the accident.

On April 21, he was flown to the Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Ga., where he will stay at least until June 9. Patrick said if her son wakes up from the coma before then, the stay will be longer.

While hospital and doctor bills keep rolling in, Patrick said the most important expense they’re focused on right now is the equipment they will need to care for him when he comes home. McKinney will need accessible transportation as well as a wheelchair and a hospital bed.

“He’s 6 foot-2 inches,” Patrick said. “He doesn’t fit in a regular hospital bed.”

McKinney’s father, Richard McKinney, is preparing his house to make it more wheelchair-accessible.

McKinney faces a long road of recovery, and family and friends have planned the Drew McKinney Benefit Ride to raise money to help the family financially.

Registration is $10 and begins at 11 a.m. on June 12 at Frogtown on 2515 S. Third St. The ride begins at 1 p.m.

“Anyone can register. You don’t have to ride to participate,” said Lee Ann Noble, 40, of Ashland, Ky. Noble is a cousin of McKinney and one of the organizers of the event.

The motorcycle ride will last about two hours, beginning and ending at Frogtown, and lunch will be provided. There will be T-shirts for sale, door prizes, raffles and drawings.

“We know a lot of people who ride motorcycles and we held a meeting and had a lot of people show interest,” said Rhonda Heaberlin, another organizer of the event who first met Patrick when they worked at King’s Daughter’s Medical Center.

Heaberlin said Patrick is on family medical leave presently.

Patrick said McKinney is making progress.

“He’s doing things we were told would never happen,” Patrick said. “He’s opening his eyes. He’s following commands. That’s how they know he’s coming about. One finger for yes, two for no.”

Patrick said McKinney has moved up a level on the coma scale. With one being the worst and 10 being the best, McKinney started out at a two on the scale and has progressed to a level three.

Patrick said being at Shepherd Center has made a difference for them.

“Shepherd’s was built upon a mother’s love,” she said. “I’ve never been in a hospital where the people are so positive. They’re honest with you, but they just say, ‘Miracles happen here.’”

Patrick is also thankful for the University of Kentucky Hospital and said they saved her son’s life.

“The doctors are telling us he’ll be the same Drew, just a little different,” said Jean Marie Young, of Ashland, a cousin of McKinney.

Patrick described her son as a very kind and outgoing young man.

“He always cheers people,” Patrick said. “He has tons and tons of friends.”

Patrick said McKinney used to go to a nursing home with her to visit patients when he was 17 years old.

“How many 17-year-olds do you know that would do that?” Patrick said.

She said he loves the outdoors and fishing, as well as watching sports. Patrick said she is thankful for the good friends he has.

“They have continued to check on him,” Patrick said.

Patrick said McKinney is majoring in criminology at Morehead State and wants to be a parole officer or a state trooper.

For more information on the benefit ride for Drew McKinney, contact Lee Ann Noble at (606) 939-1260.