Making a Difference in the Lives of Burn Survivors
To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t need to do the extraordinary … you simply need to care!
Mike Wayman is a Burn Survivor. Now in his 40s, he wrote to us about what happened in the summer of 1976 when he was just 2 years old. Like many of our children who have survived burn trauma, Mike admitted to not really remembering much except what his parents have shared over the years.
Mike’s family was having a BBQ at Twin Lake Park in Crystal, MN. The BBQ pits were open circular pits in the ground with rocks around them. Picnic-goers put a grate over the top to cook on which would definitely not meet today’s safety standards.
The families had lit the pit and at one point there were very intense flames. Mike was a precocious 2-year-old, full of energy and curiosity. He and his younger brother were innocently playing when he tripped near the fire. To the horror of everyone gathered, he tumbled head first into the open flames. His dad grabbed him with his bare hands and ran him into the lake. His first instinct was to cool him off and calm down the skin. Twin Lake was 1 mile for North Memorial Hospital so instead of waiting for the ambulance to show up, Mike’s parents rolled him in wet towels and drove directly there.
Mike was admitted to the burn unit where it took 4 adult nurses to contain this incredibly strong 2-year-old who was writhing in pain. After sedation, they started to assess the trauma that was contained to the right side of his body: face, shoulder, chest, arm and inside forearm. It took weeks of care and dressing changes.
When Mike was able to go home, he was fitted with a compression garment over his head, face and right arm. Not the most attractive or comfortable for an active 2-year-old. Mike’s mom recalls how people would stare when they were out shopping or running errands. Once he started school, he was never teased but kids would ask how he got his scars. It took Mike until about 7th grade to be comfortable wearing short sleeves around friends. Each school year got easier and easier to live beyond his scars.
Fast forward to when Mike learned about Jake’s own burn event and the start of Firefighters For Healing as we know it today. Mike and Twin Cities Home Buyer have been a cornerstone Red Tie Gala sponsor and huge supporters for 8 years.
Mike wrote: “Jake rose up from a horrific event. He put it behind him and went on with his life. He created this Foundation to help others that might not be able to help themselves. This is why I love Jake. This is why I love the cause. The foundation has strength, know-how, courage and many awesome people who make life better for burn survivors and their families.”
Mike believes in the cause and not only donates but helps with random acts of kindness toward our families. At the 2019 Red Tie Gala, Mike and his wife were on the dance floor and noticed one of our campers who was very shy just watching from the sidelines. Mike sensed she was intrigued but nervous. He walked over and invited her and her dad to dance. She lit up and immediately showed them how much energy she had! Mike will remember her smile forever.
To top it off Mike thanked Firefighters For Healing for bringing sponsors and families together that night to celebrate the achievements and incredible network of support! With an attitude of gratitude, we are so thankful to the Wayman family for believing in us and their unwavering support.