A typical summer motorcycle ride took a turn for the worse and changed the lives of Don and Therese Meyenburg.
On Aug. 5, 2012, Don and Therese Meyenburg of Isanti were driving near Milaca when a car veered into their lane. Don swerved to avoid a collision, crashing into a ditch on the side of the road.
With a broken shoulder, Don was released from the hospital in Princeton, Minn., after several hours. But Therese was airlifted to North Memorial hospital in Robbinsdale, Minn., with internal bleeding on her brain. She was unconscious and unresponsive for two weeks. After three months in the hospital, Therese is back home, but her fight continues and the extent of her brain injury is still unknown.
The Meyenburg family is holding a benefit to help Don and Therese with mounting medical and legal bills. The benefit is Friday, March 15, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Majestic Oaks Golf Club in Ham Lake, Minn. Donation tickets for a spaghetti dinner are $15 each and children under 5 are free. There will also be a silent auction, games and a photo booth.
“We believe that Therese was thrown off the bike,” daughter-in-law Jessica Meyenburg said.
“Don went down with the motorcycle. He broke his shoulder from impact, and immediately Therese had bleeding out her nose and mouth and was not responsive.”
Jessica and her husband Tim — Don and Therese’s son — are planning the benefit. After a few weeks at North Memorial, Therese was transferred to Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul for occupational, physical and speech therapy.
“She was essentially in a coma state for two weeks,” Jessica said. “And then she woke up. She was on a ventilator so she couldn’t talk. There was some response, but not a lot for a couple weeks, and then she started very slowly coming out.”
Therese was sent home just before Thanksgiving. She can complete most day-to-day tasks on her own with some help, but Tim said her short-term memory has declined since the accident.
“She’s physically independent,” Jessica said. “She can do a lot of things and from looking at her and meeting her, you might not know that anything had happened, but there’s some confusion.”
Don and Therese’s daughter Sarah Barnes and her husband Tom have moved in with Don and Therese to help out at home when Don is at work. Jessica and Tim said they’re grateful for what Sarah and Tom have done.
“They’ve given up everything they have to be there and do anything,” Jessica said. “Don could not do it without them. We could not do it without them.”
Jessica said physicians don’t know if her short-term memory will improve. Don and Therese have four children — Chuck, Tim, Steve and Sarah. Jessica said they’ve all been taking turns helping to care for Therese, who can’t be kept alone.
“Her short-term memory is not fully there,” Tim said. “She remembers a lot of things from when we were really little kids, but she calls us by the wrong names.”
Don has always taken care of Therese and their children, Tim said, so he was used to it. But they don’t go out anymore, he said. Don goes to work and comes home, his weekends spent doing something with Therese or at home taking care of her.
“The hardest thing of the whole situation is Harleys are their life,” Jessica said. “So to have that guilt of it happened because of something they enjoy I think is really hard. But I would say this has definitely brought the family closer together.”
The Meyenburgs try to get together more often now, Jessica said, doing activities that are fun for Therese and getting her out of the house. Tim and Jessica’s daughter Madison is the only grandchild so far, and Therese loves spending time with her.
“That’s the highlight for her,” Jessica said. “We can do anything with Madison with them.”
Don has been out riding since the accident, but Jessica said there will always be a fear of crashing again. Don didn’t ask Jessica and Tim to hold the benefit, she said.
“We’ve always been a pretty close family, but there’s always been some family issues our whole life,” Tim said. “It seems like everybody’s put all that stuff aside and tried to take care of whatever needs to get done, even though sometimes you don’t want to because you feel like it’s too much. My dad didn’t choose this, but he just kind of got thrown into having to do all this, so we try to help him as much as we can. He’s not the type of person who reaches out and asks for help from anybody, so he wanted to take care of all these bills and everything by himself, and it’s just too much for one person.”
The Meyenburgs are accepting donations from businesses to include in the silent auction at the benefit. Donations can be sent to The Meyenburg Benefit, 21350 Lithium Street NW, Anoka, MN 55303. Any monetary gifts go the Meyenburg Benefit can be deposited at any local Wells Fargo.
For more information, call Jessica Meyenburg at 763-772-3115 or email her at [email protected]