Two wheels. Speeding through the dry dirt, soaring off each jump with ease. The tires cutting through each obstacle that lay in the way of the thick rubber tires, he’s sitting high on a dirt bike plastered with the number 22.
With the same determination to move fast, still on two wheels, he now sits a little lower. An accident that could have stolen a life hasn’t stopped this 20-year-old man from moving forward with an infectious spirit and heart-warming smile.
Plattsburgh State student Kolby Keysor of Cadyville was paralyzed from the chest down after breaking four vertebrae in a motocross accident Sept. 15. He fell from his bike at a private, off-road race track, Camp No Mercy, in AuSable.
Kolby is a PSUC junior who majors in business administration and minors in athletic coaching. He is described as outgoing, kind, athletic and someone who likes anything “fast and furious.”
The day of Kolby’s accident, he decided to get a few laps in during a split shift from work. On his last lap around the track, he wrecked coming over a jump.
“I got hurt doing something that I loved, so I wouldn’t change anything,” Kolby said.
He said he knew something was wrong when he awoke from the wreck and couldn’t feel his lower half and legs. The ambulance brought him to University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, but after realizing the extent of his injuries, they quickly airlifted him to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont.
Kolby entered surgery the next day, which allowed him to gain full mobility of his arms. He recovered at Fletcher Allen for the next 10 days until he went to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, ranked No. 6 for rehabilitation hospitals in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Cherice Granger, Kolby’s mother, said that after his surgery he researched the spine institutes and made the decision to go to Boston on his own. He was released a week early because of his quick progression.
When Kolby’s parents received the call that he was injured, they recalled it as “devastating.” His father, Scott Keysor, said he didn’t realize the severity of his son’s injuries until he watched Kolby be sent away via helicopter.
“It sunk in, and you know, your whole world just changes,” Scott said.
Although not much worked out in their favor on that day, Scott said he believes they were fortunate that the life-flight was already at CVPH, which usually isn’t the case.
“The quicker with a spinal cord injury and the quicker you can start doing anything, the better,” he said.
Financially, the family feels grateful and fortunate. Both employees of the state, Granger, an executive administrative coordinator for the Center of Canadian Studies at PSUC, and Scott, a retired corrections officer, said their insurance has been “absolutely phenomenal.”
Between insurance, their friends and family and the community, Kolby and his family have received immense financial and emotional support.
“If I said it hasn’t been tough and we haven’t had to dig into finances, I’d be lying,” Scott said. “But we haven’t touched any of his funds. Kolby would get on his laptop and look for things like his new car — that’s what keeps him going.”
“His spirit is far beyond anyone else’s I have ever met in my entire existence,” Granger said, adding that while in the hospital he never missed a “please” or “thank you.”
“The only emotion he feels is grateful,” she said.
Scott said his son has had bumps along the way, but he maintains a constant positive outlook.
Granger said the doctors in Boston were what allowed both Kolby and the family to remain so positive, Granger said.
“Obviously there are no promises, but they’ve seen a lot and done a lot of research, and they give hope.”
Kolby’s cousin, Kara Goff, who works as mail and supply clerk at PSUC, has been a large part of the fundraising efforts for Kolby’s rehabilitation.
“They had to build a ramp at his father’s house, a new front porch, a door, a customized wheel-chair, anything medically, car controls for his new car — anything that he needs,” she said.
Goff gathered a group of friends and family to create “Team Kolby” in an effort to raise as much money for him as possible.
She set up a GoFundMe account, Kolby Keysor Medical Fund, which has currently raised almost $9,000, with a goal of $10,000.
Goff and “Team Kolby” organized a spaghetti benefit dinner in Kolby’s honor that was held Nov. 15 at Saranac Fire Department station. They had a Chinese raffle with nearly 200 items donated from businesses in the area, as well as a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, bake sale, lottery tree and three bands who performed.
The fundraising efforts continue with bracelets and T-shirts available for purchase, and a fundraising event held at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, where 10 percent of the proceeds will go to Kolby.
Goff said her hope for Kolby is that he can continue to do whatever he used to do.
“He’s super upbeat, it’s amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it — he never complains,” she said.
The support is what Kolby said helped him get on the fast track to recovery. He had over 200 visitors while at Fletcher Allen, which is the most the hospital has ever seen. His friends made the four-hour trip to Boston to visit him, and he said the amount of people who showed up at the benefit “amazed” him.
Kolby’s girlfriend of over two years, Kaitlyn Timmons, was with him when the accident occurred and is still by his side.
“With his accident, it’s just making us stronger. I’m always there with him every day when I can be and helping him out with everything he needs,” Timmons said.
She said the accident has not affected her life in any negative way and that it’s been positive because of his happy, motivated personality.
“Honestly, just being with him every single day, seeing him being positive just makes everything so much better,” Timmons said. “His spirits are always so high, so that’s good.”
Kolby’s motocross family also showed their support for their injured biking brother. A fellow biker from Albany, whom Kolby has never met, came to support him at his benefit.
“It’s honestly like a motocross family — you stick together,” Kolby said.
Kolby has three brothers, who his parents said “have been his life support.”
“They’ve all stepped up to the plate,” Granger said. “Especially his twin brother Cameron.”
Cameron said he was impressed and appreciative of the turnout for the fundraiser and that so many people were doing something great for his brother.
“I don’t know how he (Kolby) does it,” Cameron said. “He’s a strong kid — I know I couldn’t do it.”
Kolby is done with occupational therapy and is now in outpatient rehab, focusing on lifting weights to build upper body strength. He is still getting in the routine of things at home as he his getting used to doing things differently.
His biggest challenge right now? “Stairs,” he joked.
His future goals include driving his new car, getting back to PSUC in the fall, heading back to work at the Plattsburgh International Airport and ultimately getting back on his bike next summer.
“I wake up every day and thank God I’m still alive and that I still have my arms and no brain damage.”
Overall, Kolby said he considers himself lucky.
“When I got here, I thought things could only go up from here,” Kolby said. “Bad things happen to good people all the time — you can’t dwell upon it.”
Email Brittany Shew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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