NEWS UPDATE: Bill Martin wants money needed to teach accessible vans after accident

Bill Martin wants money needed to teach accessible vans after accident

The Martin family was changed forever in an accident in October 2018 when a tree fell on the family’s SUV while driving in Caledonia, Wisconsin.

The incident tragically claimed the life of Michelle Martin and seriously injured former Horlick High School educator William “Bill” Martin.

Strong winds are believed to have been the cause of the accident, which happened on Mile 4 off Nicholson Road and forced Bill to quit his education career.

However, the accident didn’t take him out of the game entirely. With the help of generous donors, he hopes to purchase a van that will meet the needs of his disability. With transportation, he can get back to the classroom and do what he loves.

“I love it when I stand in front of my students,” said the math teacher.

consequences of the accident. – Credit: Continuing Professional Development
Family SUV crushed by fallen tree. – Credit: Continuing Professional Development

Life-threatening injury alters Martin’s mobility

Teaching stopped when he suffered life-threatening injuries from the impact of the fallen tree.

Bill was in the hospital after the accident. – Photo courtesy of Bill Martin

“They wanted to take me (for) life on a plane, but couldn’t because it was too windy,” he said. “Winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour.”

After the accident, Martin underwent 14 hours of surgery. He underwent surgery on both wrists and neck due to a broken C6 vertebra.

“There were three different surgeons, doing different operations at the same time. One (surgeon) came out to my daughter and said, ‘We don’t think he’s going to make it,'” he recalls.

In addition to the broken neck, Martin suffered numerous other fractures, including to his radius and eight fingers.

He was in a coma at the time. Still, Martin continues to deal with the long-term effects of limited mobility and the loss of his wife, years after the accident. Over the years, he suffered complications from accidents and underwent additional surgeries.

He tore three of the four tendons in his rotator cuff, which were not discovered until about six months after the accident. On top of that, Martin broke his leg during his rehab while trying to get into the car.

The accident forced Martin to use a wheelchair. The Marquette Neurological Rehabilitation Clinic was instrumental in helping Martin regain his strength and relearn to walk.

Strive to overcome traffic problems

Amid the challenges Martin has endured, he is working to get back into the classroom again.

“After the accident — before the pandemic — I actually went back once a week and I was tutoring,” he said.

At this time, however, he relies on a private company for transportation using their accessible van. To meet the school schedule and the needs of his physical therapy, he needs his own vehicle.

“There are so many good teachers out there, they’ll never know how much their students appreciate them.”

Bill Martin, Educator

Martin knew how much he was appreciated for the accident. People poured out their love for him.

Whether it was through donations, or sending him cards and well wishes, people have continued to support him since the accident.

Bill’s first “cane walk” in 2023 – video courtesy of Bill Martin

“It’s been so fun knowing that I helped them (students) get where they want to go. Now they’re giving me back,” Martin said. “I’m a very, very lucky teacher.”

for his students

While the accessible van is for Martin to drive, it’s actually also for his students; not to drive, but to help their educators get back into the classroom.

Bill Martin was rolling outside. – Photo courtesy of Bill Martin

“When you see the lightbulbs light up in the students’ eyes… when they finally understand what you’re trying to convey or the concept you’re trying to teach them, that’s amazing,” Martin said.

Those interested in helping Mr. Martin can donate to his “Wheels to a teacher” GoFundMe page.

As of Wednesday (Jan. 18), he had raised $14,211 of his $75,000 goal.

With the money, he will continue to show up in classes and help students with their studies.

If the fundraiser has any additional funds, the money will go towards his ongoing treatment or home remodeling.

In addition to the ongoing online fundraiser, a recent fundraiser was held on January 16 at Georgie Porgie’s, 5502 Washington Ave, to raise much needed funds for teachers.

Culver’s fundraiser is March 1

An additional fundraiser will be held at Culver’s, 4542 Douglas Ave, on March 1 from 4pm to 9pm. People can visit the institution and mention that they are there to support Martin, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to local teachers.

This story was originally published by Racine County Eye on January 11, 2023. We’ve updated it to include new fundraising opportunities and updated donations received through online fundraisers.

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