It’s been nearly two weeks since Lincolnton firefighter Adam Dancoff fractured his vertebrae after diving off a boat into a shallow part of Lake Norman, placing him in the hospital. Firefighters from various local agencies have united to construct a wheelchair ramp for Adam at his mother’s Lincolnton residence.
The 21-year-old started this week doing physical and occupational therapy for four hours a day.
“Therapy is really hard, but he’s determined,” his mother, Linda Rudisill McGinnis, told the Times-News on Wednesday.
Adam, who’s been with the city fire department for about a year, participating in its explorer program prior to joining staff full-time, was on a boat on Lake Norman July 14 with friends and family when he dove into a shallow part of water, sustaining significant damage to his neck and head.
From day one in the hospital, firefighters filled his room and surrounded his bed to encourage him and pray for him, including his girlfriend of three years, who’s since decided she wants to pursue a career in physical therapy, Linda said.
In addition to Lincolnton, firefighters from South Fork, where Adam’s volunteered for years, have been working to build the aluminum wheelchair ramp at Linda’s home on Southside Church Road.
Even 11-year-old Abigail Harkey, whose father works for Lincolnton, has been assisting in the operation, saying Adam’s strength has served as motivation for the entire crew of men.
“He’s really inspired us to work harder,” she said.
Most of the firefighters have a construction background, making the project come together more easily, Lincolnton Fire Department’s A-shift Captain Shane Bowman said.
“We wanted to all volunteer since we couldn’t help by administering drugs (in the hospital),” he said.
In addition, community residents and friends of firefighters have offered to donate a majority of the ramp’s supplies including lumber, concrete and gravel.
“It’s hard to think who hasn’t been here,” Linda said of the workers in her driveway. “It’s a family, not just for the department you work for.”
Fire agencies from as far away as Asheville, Greensboro and Hickory have offered to help Adam, Bowman said.
Bowman had only exemplary things to say about the injured firefighter.
“He’s a really, really good kid,” he said. “He’s been the best rookie I’ve ever worked with.”
The family has been offering the community bracelets, by donations only, that read, “Adam’s Armor,” Linda said. They are available at Denver, Lincolnton and South Fork Fire Departments.
To help raise additional funds, three separate events, including a motorcycle ride, are also in the works for next month. Both a website called teamadam.eventbrite.com and a Facebook page “Prayers & Encouragement for Adam” have been created.
While Adam currently has strength in his arms, he’s still working to gather feeling in his fingers and other extremities, Linda said.
She’s grateful for the daily improvements she’s seen with Adam and understands the accident could have been much worse.
“We’re extremely thankful,” she said. “It could have been different.”
While surgeons have said there’s nothing more medically they can do for him, that the situation is now “in God’s hands,” Linda still hopes for a miracle for her son and can’t wait for the day that everyone can tear down the ramp and donate it to another injured individual.
“We’re still praying for Adam to walk again,” she said.