The Strength of Clay Fite
Clay Fite has been through a lot since that tragic day when a routine trash burning incident turned into a tragic accident in a matter of seconds. On February 14, 2009 the three Fite brothers, Carson (10), Cody (6), and Clay (5), were playing outside their home when a gas can exploded . Although his brothers were partially protected by the burn barrel itself, Clay was right in the line of the fire and was totally engulfed in flames. With extensive burns over most of his body he was care flighted from the hospital in Olney, Texas to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
Clay spent a long four and half months in the hospital. With the exception of a few days here and there Clay’s parents, Chance and Deidra, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas the entire time. “We cannot envision a better place for a family in our situation. It was close enough to Clay that we never missed a single scheduled visit while he was in the hospital.” Although his brothers attended school during the week, they enjoyed spending every weekend at their new “home away from home”. When asked what they liked most about the House, the overwhelming response was “the game room”. In addition to that, they enjoyed the organized activities that kept them busy like the easter egg hunt, family bingo night, and especially the pet therapy dogs.
Since being discharged in June, Clay has turned 6 and became an official home-based Kindergartner at Olney Elementary. His teacher visits their home twice a week and Deidra fills in the rest of the week making sure he stays current on the curriculum. Physical and Occupational Therapists from the school also come to their home and work with Clay once a week. The family’s hope is that Clay will start first grade next year in the classroom with his fellow classmates.
Although a lot of progress has been made, the road ahead is a long one. Clay has had 15 surgical procedures to date. It’s anticipated he’ll need surgical releases every 6 – 8 months until he stops growing, which could be anywhere from 16 – 18 years of age.
Over their four-month stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, the Fite family received a lot of generosity and support from the volunteers, staff and other families. “It really meant a lot that the staff and volunteers knew us, knew our situation, knew when we were having a good or bad day, and were prepared to help us through the situation regardless of what it was. Without them, that time of our life, which was bad, would have been much worse.” Over the coming years as they continue to juggle appointments and surgeries, it’s comforting to know there is a place for the entire family to stay close by.