Benefit to aid former Kirkland resident, survivor of recent accident
By LAILA ZAYAN
Kirkland Reporter UW News Lab
October 12, 2011 · Updated 5:06 PM
Erik Baker’s life changed in an instant.
A former Kirkland resident now living in Snohomish County, he was helping his neighbor install lights for the local 4H Club Horse Arena when he fell from a pole in May.
He broke his neck and suffered permanent spinal-cord injury, making him a quadriplegic.
Baker, 40, was always very active, including volunteering at Friendship Adventures, a nonprofit based in Kirkland that supports people with disabilities. His favorite hobbies were skiing, horseback riding, riding quads, hunting and fishing.
But, his active lifestyle had to be redefined after the accident.
“I was initially very scared,” says Baker, who graduated from Lake Washington High School in 1989. "But then it got me really motivated.”
After being released from the hospital, Baker has continued with physical therapy and recently started outpatient therapy at Providence Regional Medical Center.
“I am still planning on doing everything I used to,” he says, “just at a different capacity.”
Despite Baker’s grueling therapy, he has managed to maintain a positive attitude.
“He has not had any major meltdowns,” said his wife, Kelly.
In fact, Baker says that the accident “has made my relationship stronger with my family and wife.”
Baker has been a longtime volunteer with Friendship Adventures. The organization was created by Erik’s aunt, Maureen Browning of Kirkland, in order to “enhance the lives of people with developmental disabilities,” says Browning.
She started the nonprofit in honor of her disabled brother. She says she never thought that her nephew would end up needing the organization's assistance.
Friendship Adventures is putting on a benefit dinner and auction to raise money for Baker and his family on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Their home now needs some alterations, and Kelly says that a helpful purchase would be “a vehicle modified so Erik can drive himself.”
She says that the independence alone would make him happy.
Saturday, Oct. 22, Redmond Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, 4330 148th Ave. N.E. in Redmond. Doors open at 4:45 p.m., and the silent auctions close at 6 and 6:15 p.m. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. with a live auction following.
Advanced ticket prices are $15 per person, $25 per couple, and $200 for a table for eight. Price includes admission, dinner and beverages. To register, visit www.friendshipadventures.org/Fundraiser.htm
Laila Zayan is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.