Fund drive for Tarkio, Mo.’s Landon Shaw splashes toward success
05/03/2014 4:54 PM
05/03/2014 10:48 PM
Nilson, a park ranger for a county conservation agency, and his older brother, Ross, had thought about Landon since learning about his plight in early March. The father of a toddler boy, Nilson is known for helping others, especially kids. After a friend urged him to do the plunge, Nilson headed out to his brother’s pond that April day. Friends say he took the challenge with his typical 100 percent. “Before he dove in, he said something like, ‘I’m just doing this because kids bring the world together,’ ” said Jessica Taylor, who lives near Oskaloosa. She was recording the plunge on her cellphone. He and his brother, other family members and friends had gone diving into that pond dozens of times before. “We all had done it so many times,” said Ross Nilson. “For the life of me, I don’t know what went wrong this time.” Nilson knew the water was a little low that day, his brother said. But the spot where he dove must have been more shallow than he expected, and his head hit the bottom. After he dove, friends saw him paddling in the water. They know Nilson to be a jokester and thought he was just being silly. Until he stayed in the water too long. When a friend got to him, Nilson was heard saying, “I thought I was going to die.” Taylor said he soon added, “I can’t move my legs. I think I broke my neck.” As news hit that someone taking the challenge in Iowa was partially paralyzed after diving into a pond, those who know the Shaw family sent support and began to pray. “I was devastated,” Carter said. “To hear that something like that happened to a man doing a good thing, I was brokenhearted.” Added Hurst: “Our prayers are extended. Our community has tried to support him.” Nilson is now in Nebraska for rehabilitation. Doctors say his C6 vertebra was fractured. He has movement in his arms, but his fingers struggle to grip. On two occasions he has been able to move his toes slightly on his left foot. His brother said Cole’s spirts are high. “He’s excited for every day to go to rehab to see what else he can do,” Ross Nilson said. As for walking again, doctors say they take things day by day. Friends and family in Iowa have started raising money for Nilson and his family. And as he regains his health, Nilson still thinks about the boy he took the plunge for last month. “He actually said, ‘I don’t want the fact that this happened to me to take away from Landon getting help,’ ” Taylor said. “He still wanted people to do this for Landon.”
The money coming in for the rural Tarkio boy has alleviated some of the stress for the family, friends say. Landon has three older siblings and the family continues to face hefty expenses. Last week, Landon was back at Children’s Mercy with a fever. But an MRI midweek gave his family good news. “No new tumors or tumor growth,” read a Facebook update from his parents. “CAT Scan was clear! Going home this afternoon!” Organizers plan to display some of the notes and letters for Landon at the Tarkio Resource Center, 405 S. 11th St., so the community can see how people around the world have reached out. The display will include handstitched quilts with Landon’s name and a beach ball signed by plungers in Iowa. “We want to show the community what they started,” Hurst said. Many letters will tug at you, she said. The ones from moms whose children have also battled cancer. And especially the ones from children. “Dear Landon,” a note from a 6-year-old read. “I hope you get better and I hope your parents take you to the zoo.” Another said: “Do you like dogs? I like dogs. I hope you get a dog.”
How to help
Donations and cards for Landon Shaw can be sent to The Flower Mill, 606 Main St., Tarkio, MO 64491.
To send support or donations for Cole Nilson, email his brother Ross Nilson at email@example.com.
Join the Discussion
The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.