It’s not supposed to happen that way. Sixteen year old skateboard-loving boys are not supposed to be lying in the hospital facing death. But that’s what happened to Daniel Ripper of Birmingham, Michigan, after MRSA somehow got into his brain. Daniel didn’t die, but neither did he leave the hospital without paying a price – the MRSA left him blind: “When you get out of the shower and you look at the mirror and it’s all foggy – that’s what I see,” he said, in an interview with his local newspaper. “It’s all lights.”
Today, 2 years after MRSA struck him, Danielle is not just back skateboarding, he is taking classes and eventually plans to open his own skate park. “I couldn’t play video games or watch TV, so I started skateboarding. It gets me out of the house and clears my mind up. As bad as it is, I know it could be worse, he said. I realize I might not even be here. I can’t see but I can still have fun with life.”
Every year in the United States over 80,000 people suffer from severe MRSA infections just like Daniel does. That’s another reason his story matters. It reminds us that MRSA doesn’t just come and go like the illnesses most of us experience. Instead, it leaves its mark: an amputated limb, a removed organ, a disfigured face. And it makes you pay a heavy psychological price too, because the people who’ve had it once are more likely than those who’ve never had it to get it again. So you have to learn to live not just with your blindness, as in Daniel’s case, but also with the dread that it may return. And when you’re a MRSA patient in the United States, you also know that it will kill over 23,000 Americans every year.
But this coming Saturday, on June 14, Daniel Ripper and those close to him will have something else on their minds. A fundraiser for Daniel is being held at the Birmingham skate park to raise awareness about MRSA and to help out Daniel financially. There will be food, a raffle, art, and music.
And there will be plenty of skateboarding.
If you would like to see videos of Daniel or contribute to his fundraiser, click on the first link above.