Ivory Okleasik participated in the annual Nome-Golovin 200 snowmachine race on March 12. She crashed and sustained severe injuries, which included breaking her spine, leaving her unable to walk. She was medevacked from Nome and received treatment in Anchorage.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Ivory to assist in paying for a custom wheelchair and modifications to her residence in Nome. Funds will also go toward medical bills, food and other related expenses.
The GoFundMe is seeking to raise $25,000 to assist Okleasik with her recovery.
Family and friends want Okleasik to focus on healing, not the financial strain that medical bills and related expenses will bring, according to EJ Rochon, Okleasik’s best friend and the organizer of the fundraiser.
“They weren’t interested in doing fundraisers at first until I nudged her and let her know this is going to be a lot more expensive than you think, with the rehab,” Rochon said. “I’m happy that she is starting to open up to having help. She’s kind of an independent woman, and I know it’s hard for somebody like Ivory to ask for help.”
As she rehabilitates from her injuries, Okleasik told Rochon she feels uplifted. She added that because of the support and love she has received, she is staying positive and is taking every new challenge a day at a time.
“Ivory is one of the most kindhearted young women that I know,” Rochon said. “When I first moved to Nome, I was alone, and she said she saw me in the hallway and she said, ‘I’m going to be friends with her.’ And we were inseparable since then; she spent a lot of time taking care of me when I had my struggles.”
Okleasik has always been a ray of sunshine in her life, and for others, Rochon said.
“She’s been in a pretty positive mindset,” Rochon said. “It’s been so inspiring to hear her say, ‘I’m going to do this.’ It’s one day at a time. She’s been very patient with herself. She has her ups and downs of being upset, and I totally understand that. But I’m just so proud of her and I just want to thank everybody for supporting her and her family at this time.”
She will soon be traveling to Colorado for rehabilitation, where she will learn how to live life in a wheelchair, all while focusing on regaining her mobility, according to one of Okleasik’s social media accounts.