Hunter Pinke says the next step in his recovery from a severed spinal cord that's left him paralyzed from the waist down is "training camp" now that he's been transferred to a hospital specializing in rehabilitation.
That's the word from his mother, Katie Pinke, who has been posting updates on the injured University of North Dakota student and football player on social media.
Pinke, a junior tight end for the Fighting Hawks, was injured in a Dec. 27 skiing accident in Keystone, Colo. A collision with another skier launched Pinke head-first into a tree. The impact severed his spinal cord. He was hospitalized in suburban Denver as doctors worked to stabilize his vertebrae before being transferred to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., on Monday, Jan. 6.
Craig's website says it specializes in spinal cord and brain injury recovery. Pinke is expected to stay at Craig Hospital for three months.
In an Instagram post, Katie Pinke said Hunter referred to his stay at Craig as "training camp."
"You know that feeling before that really big game? You try to envision how to respond in certain situations? I am feeling it. Except it’s not a quarter or a half. It’s for three months. The start matters just as much as the finish. Start fast. Finish strong," Katie quoted Hunter as saying.
Hunter retains the use of his upper body and began to use a wheelchair.
In another Instagram post, Katie Pinke quoted Hunter saying, “I busted my PR (personal record) in hallway wheelchair sprints.”
She continued: "I said, 'Was that a sprint?' With a chuckle from his hospital bed, he said, 'It was all out, no tempo. Get going or get out.' His wheelchair sprint time was 1:26 in the hallway and his goal was 2 minutes or under. As a former track and field coach of Hunter's, I can confirm that is his most improved PR in any sprint of his life!"
The Pinkes are from Wishek, N.D. Hunter was a multi-sport high school for South Border. He's in his fourth year at UND, majoring in mechanical engineering.
A GoFundMe account set up after Hunter's accident has raised nearly $150,000. You can donate by clicking on this link.
Also, a benefit account for Hunter has been set up with First Community Credit Union. You can donate at any FCCU location.
"Never before in life have we experienced cheerful giving and fully embraced it as we have since Hunter's Dec. 27 skiing accident. We are suffering yet have an outlook of joy because of your spirit of generosity," Katie Pinke wrote on Instagram. "You are ministering to Hunter and our entire family, communities and friend groups through our suffering. Every need of ours has been met, even needs we hadn’t thought of yet, you’ve met it with your wealth of generosity. Jesus models generosity in the Bible and you each have modeled it during our time of struggle. Thank you."