Last updated: June 01. 2013 11:41AM - 250 Views
Jessica Pickens
Staff Writer

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Army Private First Class Chance Cleary is improving since his injury in Afghanistan in early May, but his father Jonathan Cleary says it will be a long road to recovery.

Cleary, a graduate of East Wilkes High School, suffered from a broken cheek, five broken vertebrae, traumatic brain injury, and both ankles and legs were broken when his Humvee rolled over an improvised explosive device on May 6 in Afghanistan.

Cleary’s father said his collar bone has healed well, his lungs have re-inflated, his back fusion went well and he has improved as far as the traumatic brain injury.

Chance is also now able to bear weight on his left leg, but is having trouble with his right leg.

“His calcaneus bone in his right leg has pretty much disintegrated,” he said. “So Chance now has to decide if he can live with the pain or go with an amputation.”

Right now, Chance is at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. full time, with his mother and father staying with him on month rotations.

“I’ve been up there with Chance for 11 weeks. We are going to start rotating out each month, and I’ll go back up at the end of this month,” Cleary said. “I haven’t been to work in 12 weeks, so it will be weird going back.”

His father expects Chance to be in the hospital for another two to three years. After that he will be moved to a traditional house monitored by the hospital where he can begin to transition to independent living, Cleary said.

The Army takes care of all his hospital bills, but being out of work has taken a toll on the Cleary family.

“When family comes down to visit, that is $600 right there,” Cleary said. “We have seven kids, and the money just isn’t there.”

This Saturday, August 4, a benefit is being held for the Cleary family at East Wilkes High School, where Chance is a 2010 graduate. The benefit will begin at 5 p.m. with a BBQ chicken dinner, bingo at 6 p.m. and an auction at 7 p.m. There will also be Italian shaved ice, bounce houses, a slide and a raffle for a $2,500 gift certificate to Hanes Mall, and hunting and fishing trips.

For more information, contact Chris Ward at 452-2185.

“Our neighbors and friends have been just unreal,” Cleary said. “They’ve really been great; you couldn’t ask for more. It’s really been a blessing.”

Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 ext. 18 or jpickens@heartlandpublications.com.

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