At 10, Avryn Hayes is an avid fisherman.
The young angler regularly appears in videos with his father, Nate Hayes, co-founder of Central Oregon Fishing Report. One video shows a 6-year-old Avryn catching a brown trout. A photo taken last summer shows Avryn struggling to hold up a large rainbow trout at his favorite fishing spot, Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery near Camp Sherman.
It was only natural then, that in Avryn’s greatest time of need, the fishing community would rally to support him.
On April 19, Avryn was airlifted to a Portland trauma center after a head-on crash on the Bend Parkway. He was on his way to school, when a pickup crossed the center median and struck the Subaru he was riding in with his mother’s boyfriend. Avryn is recovering in a Portland children’s hospital with a broken leg, a broken back and a fractured skull.
Joshua Pardee, a lifelong friend of Avryn’s father and a co-founder of the fishing report, launched an online crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.com to help pay for Avryn’s medical costs. He shared the campaign with fishing groups across the country, and within two days, the campaign raised about $10,000.
The momentum continued over the next two weeks with various Central Oregon businesses donating their proceeds. The total amount raised so far has reached $50,000.
Pardee has seen how the support has lifted the spirits of Avryn’s family as medical costs mount. He especially notices the positive impact when he talks with Avryn’s father.
“It’s the difference,” Pardee said. “I can tell when I first talked to him. I listened to how that financial stress started to break off, and he was able to focus on his son.”
Fundraising efforts continued Saturday with a fishing derby, organized by Pardee, and softball tournament at Bend’s Pine Nursery Park.
Bend resident Cody Ferguson came to the fishing derby with his 3-year-old daughter, McKinley, who was holding her own little fishing pole. Ferguson, who works in landscaping and irrigation, said he looks for any opportunity to fish. Being able to support Avryn was a huge bonus.
“It’s an excuse to help someone and fish,” Ferguson said. “You can’t go wrong.”
Avryn arrived at the Portland trauma center unconscious and was placed on life support. He has since regained consciousness and no longer needs life support. But he is confused about why he is in the hospital.
His speech is limited. He can say simple words like when he asks for vanilla ice cream. His days have been busy with neuro, physical, occupational and speech therapies, according to his mother, Asheley Martino, who, like the boy’s father, lives in Bend.
Martino said she is thankful and encouraged by the support for her son as he continues his long road to recovery.
“We are amazed with the community support and can’t believe that one little boy can bring a whole town together,” she said.
The community’s response to Avryn’s need inspired Bend FedEx driver Patrick McCartney. The Bend man experienced similar support a few years ago when his wife was diagnosed with cancer and spent 65 days in a Portland hospital. McCartney remembers strangers reaching out to help and businesses putting out jars to collect money.
“I really relate,” McCartney said. “Because when something like that happens, you feel like you are on your own island.”
McCartney returned the favor Thursday morning by hosting a pancake breakfast at the FedEx office in Bend. He spent the morning flipping flapjacks and grilling sausage for his co-workers. By the end of the day, the fundraising breakfast brought in $655 for Avryn’s family.
The way the fundraising has grown for Avryn has gone beyond anything Pardee could have imagined when he started the GoFundMe campaign.
Avryn wasn’t aware of the support until a few days ago, Pardee said.
Avryn’s father told his son about the fishing derby. He showed Avryn a picture of the first-place trophy with a gold fish on the top that would be given to the derby winner.
Avryn took at look at the trophy and smiled.
“That’s so cool,” he said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org