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One Moment a Sought After College Recruit, the Next Paralyzed from the Waist Down

Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

“It’s that phone call that no mother ever wants to get”, said Tina Cerekas as she explained how she heard the news that her son was in a horrible accident. Ray Cerekas was in his junior year of high school when he and his friend got in a devastating car accident. 
Within a matter of seconds Ray was completely paralyzed from his waist down. “It felt like the world's heaviest blanket on my legs,” said Ray. Immediately after the accident, Ray was rushed to the emergency department to go through an intense and long surgery. At the hospital, Ray’s mom, Tina, met up with her son “He was alive so I was grateful, whether he was walking or not!”

In the accident Ray broke two of his vertebrae. One piece of the broken vertebrae was lodged into his spinal cord, which was the reason he had lost all feeling in his legs. During the surgery, the surgeon made two incisions the length of Rays back, inserting two stabilizing rods and nine screw to hold his back in place long enough to heal. 

After the surgery, Ray was bed bound for over a week, not able to do anything for himself. Before the accident Ray was a competitive bowler with several college coaches showing interest in recruiting him. Consequently, the weight of his diagnosis began to set in once he was out of surgery. Surprisingly, this didn’t hold Ray back. Instead it lit a fire inside him to accomplish almost the impossible, a full recovery. 

With pure power of will, Ray pushed himself to regain full mobility. Although, his injury wasn’t his only hurtle. Ray’s accident fell in the middle of the school year, adding only another obligation to his plate. Tina said, “It is hard enough being in high school keeping up, but everything he set his mind to accomplish he did.” She added, “He fought - he never gave up, I am so proud of him.”

At the end of the tour, Ray had a few words for the Orchid employees. “They have a bigger role than people think. I was able to see how everything has to be done specially for it to function correctly in the patient.” He continued, “People think ‘the surgeon saved my life,’ but now that I’ve seen what the Orchid employees do and the detail that goes into each part, I see how important their job is. They have a big role, so thank you for making the part for me.” 

Today Ray has complete mobility back in his legs and is in his freshman year at University of Rochester pursuing his bowling career. Orchid’s purpose is to provide individuals the opportunity to live a better life. Orchid employees go to work every day to make an impact in individual’s lives like Ray. Without committed employees who believe in the products they manufacture stories like this would be few and far between. Orchid employees are able to go to work knowing they are making a difference and saving people’s lives.

Orchid visitors, including Mark (Mark's story here) Ray and Tina with Tony Crivella, Orchid's Senior Global Commercial Manager