Tuesday, there was a major breakthrough for 18-year-old Redmond resident Chanel Cogan, who was critically injured in a hiking accident on July 31. She said her first full words since the accident, telling her mom Mimi Cogan, “Goodnight,” “Love you” and “Bye.”
The night before, Chanel had uttered her first two audible syllables, “OK,” since the accident.
Chanel, a 2010 graduate of Redmond High School, was camping with friends near Kachess Lake that summer day when she decided to go for a hike and fell 100 feet from a cliff. The terrible fall resulted in brain trauma, a stroke, severe cuts and numerous broken bones.
Initially hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Cogan was recently moved to Bothell Health Care for rehabilitation and is still technically in a coma, “but I feel she’s coming out of it,” her mom told the Redmond Reporter in a phone interview Sept. 14.
Chanel has been gazing at family and friends, showing signs that she recognizes them and trying to communicate through touch or facial expressions. She was also trying to mouth words but Monday was the first time her family and friends heard her actually speak again.
“Her boyfriend just about fell over,” said Mimi, referring to Chanel’s longtime boyfriend Charlie Culbert, who works at Redmond’s Emerald Heights retirement community, as did Chanel and many of her friends.
“He holds the key to most of Chanel’s success. When he stares at her, she smiles. … Her mom and dad, she just tolerates having us around,” Mimi added, laughing.
“Chanel is improving every day, has her fan club coming to see her. They play guitar in her room, talk and laugh. We think she hears them and understands,” said Mimi.
During her recent physical therapy, Chanel is “really using her stomach muscles, back muscles, which are really strong because she was an athlete,” Mimi continued. “We don’t know the long-term outcome, we’re just thinking positive. With a stroke and brain injury, she’s basically still in a coma and trying to come out of it. … It’s been a little over six weeks, but it looks promising. … It’s such a weird situation to talk to educated doctors and hear, ‘I don’t know.’ With the brain, you never know how it will recover.”
But Mimi and the rest of Chanel’s family, including her dad Pat and older sister Tiffany, a student at University of Arizona, have felt very blessed by the outpouring of love and encouragement from the community. People have brought them meals, taken care of their dog and made generous donations to The Chanel Cogan Special Needs Trust at Bank of America and to upcoming fundraising endeavors to help offset the astronomical medical bills.
Because Pat is self-employed as a general contractor and Mimi recently switched jobs, they did not have medical insurance when Chanel’s accident occurred. Just one bill from Harborview bill was more than $365,000.
However, Mimi remains upbeat, asking friends and neighbors to support the fundraisers for Chanel, to pray and offer “positive thoughts for Chanel to wake up and recover.”
The fundraisers include a garage and bake sale this Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at and around 16713 NE 87th St. in Redmond. For details or to offer donations, contact Pam Tschumi at email@example.com.
Also, a family friend, David Schulman, has organized a special raffle to take place at a University of Washington vs. Washington State University hockey game on Saturday, Oct. 2, with raffle proceeds and most of the ticket proceeds to be donated for Chanel’s medical bills.
“We have a mixed marriage,” Mimi quipped. “I’m a Husky and my husband is a Coug, so we’re hoping the game will be a fun rivalry, as well as there being some great raffle prizes. I wish Chanel could come to the game, that would be so much fun. But we’ll see. Maybe she’ll surprise us.”
For information about the hockey game and raffle, contact David Schulman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details about the fundraisers and Chanel’s progress are also available at www.caringbridge.org/visit/chanelcogan.