Despite being a quadripeligic, Kyle David seems as upbeat as a man in his mid-20s can be about what the future may hold.
His easygoing nature could in part be attributed to his good friend – a very loud, very large and very expressive pig named Franklin.
Franklin is David’s therapy pig, there to lend emotional support, and he has been there since 2016. That’s when David was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed; he now uses a wheelchair for mobility. He faces large medical bills for his continued therapy, and family friend Christine Mitchell has organized a fundraiser from 12 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 19, in the parking lot behind Chick-fil-A on Route 1 north of Rehoboth Beach.
David, a 2014 graduate of Cape Henlopen High School, was 20 years old and a passenger in a Jeep coming home from Baltimore with two friends. The Jeep’s driver ran a red light and was T-boned at the Route 113-Route 16 intersection. The car rolled over several times, and David was thrown from the vehicle, breaking his neck, tearing his aorta and injuring his C4 and C5 vertebrae, leaving him unable to walk.
“You don’t think anything serious like that can happen to you,” he said. “I couldn’t even talk for a month because I had a [tracheotomy tube] in.”
David doesn’t remember much of the aftermath of the accident; it wasn’t until two weeks later that he was able to fully process what had happened to him. His mother, Stephanie, became his primary caregiver with support from a nurse.
Shortly after the accident, he got Franklin, who at that time was so small he fit inside Stephanie’s coat pocket. Franklin is a big boy now, clocking in around 250 pounds of surprisingly solid muscle.
“I always read that pigs were really intelligent. They’re so consciously aware that they're almost human. They’re like a 4-year-old. They’re so smart, especially when it comes to hiding food. He has such a personality, it’s almost like having another human around,” David said.
He said Franklin provides company, and by petting Franklin, he was able to gain better control of his right arm to where he almost has full use of it again.
A fundraiser was held for David back in 2017 that helped the family make their home more handicap accessible and get a van to help transport him to his therapy sessions, but he still faces a long road of rehabilitation. Mitchell said she is hoping the community will lend their support at the June 19 fundraiser.
“Thankfully, we have Medicare,” David said. “That covers a little bit.” He said the family has to go to Christiana Care in Wilmington for physical therapy, since that facility has experience with the kind of injuries he has, but he still has to pay out of pocket for a lot of his services.
David said at Christiana Care, he works on his fine motor skills, and the rehab center has a lift that allows him to stand up. He plans to take remote courses at Delaware Tech to earn a degree as a paralegal; he wants to work within the legal profession as a career.
David will be at the fundraiser, and the family is going to try to have Franklin on hand as well. Catering will be provided by First State Corn food truck, which will offer unique treats like a Kyle’s Special Sandwich and Franklin Cherry Burst flavored shaved ice.
For more information about the fundraiser, call 302-682-9104.