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Lobdell: A thousand little miracles

December 23, 2010|By William Lobdell

Miracle stories told during the Christmas season usually come packaged neatly with tidy endings that produce tears of happiness and smiles all around.

This one is different.

Though it's being told on Christmas Eve, this story set in Newport Beach is about a slow-motion miracle that's been unfolding daily in nearly indiscernible increments over the past six years. And the ending may still be decades away.

Maybe because of those characteristics and the undaunted courage of the story's real-life characters, this tale is as inspirational as any — Christmas or otherwise — you'll ever hear.

As a young boy, Cade Feitler could have been accurately described as wild, in the best sense of the word. The Dover Shores kid with a quick smile and posse of friends was a high-energy skateboarder, snowboarder, surfer, basketball player and junior lifeguard. The term "all boy" comes to mind.

The day after he turned 13 in early 2005, Cade's mother, Lisa, drove him and his big sister, 16-year-old McKenzie, to get something to eat after school. At the intersection of Newport Boulevard and Industrial Way, a driver going to a doctor's appointment ran a red light and broadsided the family's car.

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Lisa and McKenzie escaped with minor injuries. But Cade, with a fractured skull and severe brain injury, hovered near death.

He remained in a coma for several weeks, and when he slowly emerged, the prognosis grew grim. Doctors and therapists informed the Feitlers that Cade's brain was so badly damaged that he would likely never get off a ventilator, talk, walk or come home.

But this was when the slow-motion miracle began, the sum total of a thousand little acts performed by each of the Feitlers; their doctors, nurses and therapists; and friends and strangers.

Immediately after the accident, community members rallied around the Feitler family. Some raised money through dodge ball tournaments or selling hot chocolate on Balboa Island during the Christmas Boat Parade. Neighbors dropped off home-cooked meals each night on the doorstep.

One insurance executive volunteered to pick up the stacks of medical bills each week, organize and submit them. A friend put up holiday lights on the Feitler house and brought them a Christmas tree when he saw the family didn't have time or energy for the tradition.

"The amount of generosity and support we received from our community was incredible," Lisa recalled. "We will forever be thankful for that."

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