Friends will hold a fundraiser for Mark Harmon
Michael Cook, who has been with Canyons Ski Patrol for 30 years, has known fellow patroller Mark Harmon for a little more than a decade.
"Mark lives in Green River, Wyoming, and drove 2 ½ hours each way to come and patrol as a volunteer," Cook said during an interview with The Park Record. "He was always one of the first ones here in the morning, and he’s always the first on a wreck to help an injured skier."
Harmon was an emergency-care instructor who helped train new ski patrollers and was also a chemical engineer at Simplot food and agricultural company.
On April 13, 2011, Harmon suffered what doctors believe was a stroke and was flown from Rock Springs, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City, for treatment, Cook said.
"He was treated at St. Mark’s Hospital, but he was well out of the three-hour window, so they couldn’t use anticoagulants," Cook remembered. "Still, we thought it was maybe a passing transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke, but after three-days in the hospital, Mark went unconscious."
Doctors admitted him to intensive care where he was put on a cranial monitor that found his brain was swelling and deviating.
"The doctors turned to me and Mark’s wife, Lori, and gave him a less than a five-percent chance of survival, and said even if he did survive, he wouldn’t have any chance of a meaningful life, so they debated about just going to let him go," Cook said.
That was a shock.
"He was a very vital, strong person and we’re about the same age and identified with each other," he said. "So, I told the doctor, that if it was me in this situation, I would want the chance to see if I could survive."
Doctors performed a craniotomy to remove the top of Harmon’s skull so the brain would have room to swell.
"Mark did survive and, after spending 70 days in the hospital, is doing remarkably well," Cook said. "He even surprised the chief neurologist by standing up out of his wheelchair when he came down for the bone flap to replace his skull."
Unfortunately, his treatment is going to take a long time, and his insurance dropped its coverage.
"He had maxed out on his benefits and they let him go," Cook said. "He’s on the COBRA program now, but it’s expensive and temporary and the prognosis is dicey in that he doesn’t have a job, due to his ailment."
So, Cook and his ski-patrol friends and Park City-area resorts are coming together to host a fundraiser for Harmon.
The event will be at Brewvies Cinema Pub, 677 S. 200 West, in Salt Lake on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m.
Brewvies is donating the space for the fundraiser.
"We’ll have two live bands, Downright Citizens and Canyons Patrol Band, and we’ll show a ski film, Dean Cummings’ new film ‘The Steep Life,’" Cook said. "We will also have tons of prizes for the opportunity drawing."
Goodies include a full-season pass to Canyons, helicopter skiing from Diamond Peaks and more than a half-dozen pairs of skis and bindings, helmets, goggles.
"We are also holding a silent auction for more of these types of items," Cook said. "There is a pile that was donated by a lot of our connections through various vendors and the National Ski Patrol.
"We also have discounted rooms of the Red Lion Hotel, which is right next door to Brewvies, and they even pitched in a room certificate for the drawing as well," Cook said.
Tickets for the fundraiser are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. The event is open to adults ages 21 and older.
Advanced tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.firsttracksslc.org .
"There is also a donate button on the website for people who still want to donate to the cause, but can’t attend the event," Cook said.
Tickets for the opportunity drawing are $2 for one or $10 for a string of 10, Cook said. "We’re hoping people will buy $20 worth," he said. "It’s come together nicely. People can come and have fun, bid on items, listen to music and have a beer."
The money raised with help the Harmon family with the incurred and ongoing costs of treatment, including physical therapy and electric treatments.
"We figured that they have already paid $80,000 out-of-pocket so far, and there is still a ways to go," Cook said. "He is making good progress, and beating the odds, but he needs some help.
"Mark is definitely a fighter," Cook said. "He did initially lose the use of the left side of his body, and the prognosis is that he would probably not regain it, but he’s proved them wrong again. He is now walking with the use of a cane, but he did lose the cane at my house last week and walked around the living room. He’s a great guy and we’re rallying behind him."
Brewvies, 677 S. 200 West in Salt Lake City, will host a benefit for former Canyons Ski Patroller Mark Harmon on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance at http://www.firsttracksslc.org and $20 at the door.
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