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Finding Theo: A Father's True Story of Loss, Courage, and Discovery

CVB: So this was a major turning point in your life. Your son, Theo Krause, was riding a bike on a Colorado mountain trail, then he dropped into a ravine. Tell us what happened after your received the call?

Timothy Krause: Yes. He was biking with three friends on a weekend trip. He was trying to catch up to his friends because he had stopped to take some pictures. They dropped into this ravine down low and were shooting along the path when he lost control of his mountain bike and was thrown head first – I would say 20 feet or so – into an aspen tree. He was wearing a helmet that most certainly saved his life and his brain, but the impact broke his neck in three places. In fact, a shard of backbone stuck into his spinal column. As he laid there, he couldn’t move his arms and legs.

A guy came up and found him and dialed 911. That man turned out to be the son of an Iranian immigrant. He was on that trail that day because he was a cartographer. He specialized in making maps of mountain biking trails. This was his favorite trail and he was creating a map for it. He was doing this because his mother, who was dying of breast cancer, had counseled him before she died to do the thing that he loved the most.

For me, this was the first inkling of something special about Theo’s story. Who else in Colorado could call 911 and tell them with exact pinpoint accuracy where they were located in the wilderness. Theo laid there for several hours before a rescue team arrived.

CVB: It was that remote?

Timothy: Yes, it was pretty remote. It was four or five hours that he laid there before the rescue team made it up the mountain to him. A care flight helicopter had to find a place to land and they found a bluff in a precarious situation. They hiked up the bluff to deliver Theo to the helicopter. They flew into Grand Junction where a Yale Medical School spinal surgeon examined my son. He told Theo it was pretty bad and that he would never walk again.

CVB: So he knew right off the bat.

Timothy: Yes, right away he explained that this is what it was going to be. But he said, “We’re going to do our best to maybe get you the use of your hands with a repair operation.”

In the meantime, one of Theo’s friends called our house in Dallas, Texas, to tell us what happened. My wife’s cell phone rang – her name is Georgia. She said, “Tim, come here. Ted has been hurt.” He was called Ted at the time, but today he’s known by Theo. That began the worst night of our lives. I can remember very well that I was in the study trying to figure out what to do next. My wife was literally grabbing the toilet bowl, not knowing whether she’s going to pass out or throw up.

We were a long distance away and it’s kind of one of the key aspects of the story for me. As a father, you can move sharp objects out of their way their whole lives; you can send them to the best schools; you can keep them out of harm’s way and put the band aid on their knee when they’re hurt; but the day comes when, as a parent, you realize that something has happened that you can’t fix. It’s only going to be them that can fix it. What’s extraordinary about that lesson though is that other people can help. And that’s what happened.

Ultimately, eight weeks later, Theo walked out of the hospital.

More interviews and teaching by Craig von Buseck


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