In February, Eden Welply, an Austin singer songwriter, was crossing the street to go to class at Texas State University when she was hit by a car.
She had two surgeries that day, died and was revived, then was on a ventilator for a month and a half. Her doctors and nurses didn’t think she would make it. She lost the use of her legs and only has partial use of her arms.
In the 10 months since the accident, she has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers, been at home with nursing care, and relied on friends to do everything from feed her to change her catheter.
Currently, the 25-year-old is at a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, trying to get stronger and trying to regain some independence.
Welply is one of 12 families or individuals featured in this year’s Statesman Season for Caring program. She was nominated by Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM). Donations to Season for Caring help the featured families first, and then help hundreds of others through the local nonprofits that are part of the program.
Welply’s future care comes at a cost that is beyond what Season for Caring can do. She has many people helping her. Radio Coffee & Beer, where she worked, held a fundraiser for her. A friend has figured out how to get her government benefits and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Attorney Scott Stebler set up a trust for her to pay for her care.
Now law firm FVF Law has taken her case pro bono to try to help her rebuild her life. Its attorneys are working with the attorney for the driver who hit Welply to see if they can come up with a settlement instead of having to file a lawsuit. The maximum the driver’s insurance policy can pay out is not enough for her care.
Even if a settlement is reached, "it won’t come anywhere close to making her whole," said FVF Law founder Josh Fogelman, or even be able to cover all of her long-term medical costs, but it could help with some of her immediate needs.
FVF attorneys also are managing the medical expenses that come through because those can be overwhelming. They want to try to avoid destroying Welply’s credit.
A colleague introduced Fogelman and FVF Law co-founder Aaron Von Flatern to Welply.
"Eden's optimism is palpable and contagious," Fogelman said. "Eden is just a bright light of positivity, and she's really a joy to be around. Obviously she has made a profound impact on the community, on the art and music community in the Austin area, as well as some of her educators at Texas State in order to garner the support she has received in the wake of this incident.
"… The extent to which we are seeing and have seen her friends step up and continue to deliver is really impressive."
"You see a lot of people grabbing an oar and rowing," Von Flatern said.
As soon as they met Welply, learned what HAAM was trying to do for her and saw the Austin community’s response through Season for Caring, FVF Law signed on to do her case without taking a fee.
"When we formed this law firm we did it to do good," Fogelman said. "There are times when you just know that it's the right thing to do. It's a privilege to have a law license.
"We wish there was more we could do for her. We're grateful for what you all are doing for her, we're grateful for what HAAM is doing for her. It warms the heart for what so many people are doing.
"She's the type of person who commands this type of response."
Season for Caring families often list legal help on their wish lists. This year, Monica Beakley, 47, a single mom with stage 4 cancer whose 19-year-old son has a traumatic brain injury from a boating accident 10 years ago, needs help setting up guardianship, power of attorney and a special-needs trust. She also needs a special needs advocate or mediator. (Wonders & Worries, 512-329-5757, wondersandworries.org)
Amina Makamba, 34, who gave birth to triplets three years ago when she arrived from Congo, needs assistance establishing permanent residency as well as bringing her husband and two sons to the United States. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026, foundcom.org)
Alicia Gonzales, 40, a single mom with three boys, is finishing up nursing school as well as caring for her mother who is on dialysis. She needs help finalizing her divorce. (Capital IDEA, 512-457-8610, capitalidea.org)
For Welply, almost every item on her original wish list remains. She needs home health care for when she returns to Austin, music therapy and occupational therapy, smart home devices and installation to be able to control lights and temperature through her voice, a ramp, Dragon Dictate software, Ableton Sensory Percussion kit, an adapted vehicle and lessons to relearn to drive, Lasik, AxioBionics wearable pain management therapy, acupuncture, a trained service animal, help putting together an art exhibit of people who are paraplegic or quadriplegic, gift cards for her friends, housekeeping services, oscillating fans, and a subscription to Audible. (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians-HAAM, 512-541-4226, myhaam.org)