Former Badger helps high school friend after devastating crash

By  | 

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WLUK) - Jack John Arendt's positive attitude has never wavered.

“We never talk about his disability, ever," said Patrick Arendt, Jack John's father. "We only talk about Jack’s recovery.”

Jack John was driving to a ski hill when a distracted driver crossed the median crashing into his car at combined speeds of over 130 miles per hour.

"We saw the wreck and didn't think anybody could've survived it even before we knew it was our son,” said Patrick Arendt.

Jack John was transported by air to the Marshfield Clinic Medical Center. He spent more than a hundred days in the hospital. Part of that time, Jack John was in a medically induced coma.

"The severity of his injury, a diffuse axonal injury graded to severe to very severe, is normally a death sentence," said Patrick Arendt. "Normally your body would've been destroyed.”

His mother and father credit the response of emergency crews and physicians that helped save their son’s life. They also credit Jack John’s passion, skiing, as playing a part in why he’s still here today.

"Even as the orthopedic bills mounted, even as we found out our orthopedic surgeon's warranty on the pins they said could never break again continued to break. Jack insisted on skiing," said Patrick Arendt. "He built a body that allowed him to survive an un-survivable crash."

Although he is in a wheelchair, Jack John's desire to hit the slopes hasn’t gone away. One of his high school classmates, Vince Biegel, took notice of that.

“When I saw his accident back in 2017 and the passion for what he did, it really struck a chord with me," said Biegel.

A former University of Wisconsin standout on the football field and current linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, Biegel decided to step in and help his old Lincoln High School classmate out.

“It’s been on my mind since I was a (Green Bay) Packer.”

He started a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 for an adaptive downhill ski chair.

“It’s made for him," explained Biegel. "It’s a sit-down ski chair, it’s got skid on the bottom. It’s got someone who can steer Jack John down the hill comfortably and eventually when Jack John gets to that point he can also do himself. This is something he can grow into. It’s something that won’t just be enjoyable for him but for his family and it’s something that they can go back out on the mountain and enjoy themselves.”

“To feel the rush of the wind coming over, the rhythm of the snow passing under his skis and give him a sense of how to cut and curve and turn down a ski hill. It’ll mean everything," said Patrick Arendt.

Within 36 hours the $5,000 had been raised.

“I was blessed to be given a platform to use and when I see someone in my community, someone I graduated with that really has been speaking to me for years now," said Biegel. "The time was right and I wanted to be able to do this for him.”

"Just a good friend," said Jack John. "It's been a while since I've seen him."

“He can’t thank Vince enough for investing in him and lending his support for Jack,” said Patrick Arendt.

You can make donations to Jack John's GoFundMe here until July 12. All additional funds will be used to make the Arendt house more wheelchair accessible.

Any donation of $25 automatically enters you in a drawing for a signed Drew Brees jersey.