Many readers will be familiar with IJA Lifetime Member and well-known professional juggler Waldo (Paul Burke). Waldo was a mainstay at IJA Conventions and other juggling festivals during the 1980s and 1990s. Besides his solo work, he is also known for his partnerships with Arsene (Didier Dupin) and Woodhead (Mark Keppel).
Waldo was in a major motorcycle accident on July 15, 2018 in upstate New York. He was hit broadside by a truck that ran a stop sign on a roundabout. Waldo flew off the bike and his helmet flew off his head. He hit the pavement and slid on bare skin on the 95 degree temperature pavement. The truck continued forward and ran over Waldo, ending up on top of him and severing the majority of his foot. It took two weeks to drain fluid from Waldo’s lungs. He spent a total of 2 months at the Albany, NY Medical Center Trauma Unit. Initially, he was told they might have to amputate above the knee and that he would never be able to walk again without the use of crutches, or at best, a cane. Waldo had eight major operations to repair two cracked ribs and to rebuild bone fractures of the tibia, fibula and ankle. He has had numerous skin grafts and reconstructions. Miraculously, he kept his mangled foot, although initially doctors were talking about giving him a prosthetic leg.
Waldo has spent over 90 hours in physical therapy and countless hours working on his own to regain the use of his leg. Both of his surgeons said he was the luckiest person they’d ever seen, but that he should face the reality that he will never get to the point when he can walk without a cane. Never tell an Irishman he can’t do something. Waldo has continued physical therapy on his own and as of April 11, 2019 (nine months later) he is walking (very carefully, very slowly, and for short distances) without crutches or a cane.
The accident was the other drivers fault, but in New York State the “no fault” insurance limit on liability is $300,000. Waldo has already had eight surgeries and more are on the horizon. The medical bills (doctors, surgeries, physical therapy, etc.) will consume most of insurance money.
When Waldo was released from the hospital, Winter was approaching and he couldn’t drive, couldn’t walk, and was still on strong pain medication. Fortunately for Waldo, a performer and friend of his from Maryland, Sandy Johnson, spoke to him over the phone and heard something in his voice saying, “HELP”. She drove 400 miles that night and drove him back to Maryland to help with his recovery. He has been in recuperation and rehabilitation at her home in Maryland for the last 7 months. She is a great friend who continues to aid Waldo and, no pun intended, get him back on his feet again.
A GoFundMe page has been created for Waldo. This has been done so that he can continue with physical therapy, pay his ongoing medical bills, and go home to Belly Acres, Hawaii and repair his cabin in the woods.
Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.
In addition, readers are encouraged to help make it possible for Waldo to make his way back home. Free airline miles, financial support, cards, and letters are welcome. Feel free to contact Ed Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org for a mailing address or for more information.