The community has responded in big way to the serious injury suffered by Portland resident Mat Barton.
During a local mountain bike race on June 11th, Barton fell off balance while riding over a series of large bumps and flew off his bike head first. After surgery to repair broken vertebrae, doctors say he’ll likely be paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of his life.
Mat — a married, 31-year-old graphic designer who works for local bike retailer BikeTiresDirect.com — has many friends and supporters who have rallied around him to offer support. Six days ago, friends and family put up a fundraising website to help offset his medical bills and other expenses sure to come on his long road to recovery.
Since BartonPDX.com went up, 806 people have donated $47,000 to the cause.
There’s also a major fundraiser planned for Thursday, 6:00 pm on June 28th at Madison’s Grill (1109 SE Madison St.) Here are more details about the event:
“At the gathering there will be a silent auction to raise funds for Mat with lots of great items. Also, you can purchase raffle tickets for a Focus Chrono 1.0 TT bike worth $7,550. Tickets will be sold for $10 and the drawing will be held in September (exact date and time TBD) at the Lumberyard Bike Park.”
That event is just one of many efforts to raise money for Mat’s recovery.
On Monday at the Short Track Series (where he crashed one week ago), riders did a Mat Barton lap. Series organizer Kris Schamp says they’ve also turned their weekly prize raffle into an ongoing fundraiser for Mat. At the five remaining Short Track races, Mat’s teammates on the Staccato Gelato team will sell raffle tickets for $5 with 100% of the proceeds going to the recovery fund.
On July 1st, one of my Mat’s close friends, Austin Crenshaw, will ride the Six Hours of Mt. Hood event as a fundraiser. Austin says he and Mat had planned to do the ride as a two-man team just like they did last year. Now Austin will do the ride solo and he’s taking pledges for every lap he completes.
“I’m going to try to hold it together while I ride this one for the both of us,” Austin wrote via email to the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association list. “Mat and I both moved to Portland partly because of the bike culture and community here and it still amazes me every day — so now I give you another chance to let us know what you’re made of.”
Support is even coming in from Bakersfield, California, where Mat lived for a few years prior to moving to Portland and volunteered for the local bike advocacy group.
Meanwhile, Mat is already on his road to recovery. On Monday, he made his first Facebook post:
“Thanks for all the support out there. I’m floored by how generous and loving you all have been. Today I transferred into a wheelchair and toured the facility. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I then came back and checked facebook and blog posts… and I was in tears after reading your posts. Thanks for everything! I can’t wait to see all soon. I have a lot to do to get there but know I can make it.”
Stay strong Mat. There are a lot of people pulling for you.