Janesville man will add voice to 'Zero in Wisconsin' campaign
If you go
Two fundraisers are planned for the family of Jeff Russell of Janesville who was injured in a May motorcycle accident.
When: Registration is from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. Last bike in at 9 p.m.
Where: Russ's Park Place, 1637 E Racine St., Janesville.
Details: First place wins a $400 package from Kutter Harley-Davidson, Janesville.
When: 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3.
Where: Thresherman's Park, on Highway 51 between Janesville and Edgerton.
Cost: $5 donation at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free.
Details: Live music from 2 to 11 p.m. Bike show from 2 to 4 p.m. Beer garden from 2 to 11 p.m. Free kids games from 3 to 6 p.m. Brats, burgers, hot dogs, salads and more will be available. Event includes raffles, a live auction and T-shirts and patches for sale.
For more information: Call the bar at (608) 754-5600.
Janesville’s Jeff Russell plans to participate in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s “Zero in Wisconsin” campaign. The program seeks to educate the public about the dangers of intoxicated driving.
To learn more, visit zeroinwisconsin.gov.
He’s got a like-new set of golf clubs he can’t use.
He’s dreaming of a new motorcycle he can’t ride.
But Jeff Russell isn’t taking “can’t” for an answer.
Russell, 50, was paralyzed after a motorcycle crash at 10 p.m. May 4 on Delavan Drive south of Janesville.
Russell was riding east when he lost control of his motorcycle. He hit a patch of gravel and stayed with the bike, he said. Then he hit a culvert and flew 32 feet, according to Rock County Sheriff’s Office reports.
Russell stayed on the bike until he hit a driveway, according to the report. But when he finally was launched from the bike, Russell landed on his motorcycle tire, he said. Then the 1999 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic struck a road sign.
One of Russell’s vertebrae burst when he hit the tire. It was his only injury from the accident.
“The doctor said it was like you took an ice cube and smashed it with a hammer,” said his wife, Tina Russell.
The two own Russ’s Park Place, 1637 E. Racine St., Janesville. A poker run and fundraiser for the Russell family are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2 and 3.
Jeff was arrested for speeding, operating left of center and operating while intoxicated, according to sheriff’s office reports.
Jeff immediately was paralyzed after the accident. Slowly but surely, the strength and feeling in his legs is coming back.
Jeff’s goal is to walk again, even though a doctor initially told him he wouldn’t.
During a recent interview with the Gazette, Jeff was able to bounce his knees up and down while sitting in his wheelchair. He has feeling in his legs, but he can’t yet tell the difference between hot and cold, he said.
Jeff has physical and occupational therapy once a week in Middleton. He stretches and does leg exercises daily, he said.
A recent advance in his recovery was the ability to support himself on his hands and knees, Jeff said. It was painful, which is a sign his nerves are healing, he said.
Jeff doesn’t try to hide that he was legally drunk when he got in the accident. He hasn’t had a drop of alcohol since, partly because alcohol would impede nerve healing, Jeff said.
Tina said she spent a couple of weeks in May asking herself if things would have been different if Jeff hadn’t been drinking. But she convinced herself it would be better for her and her husband if she focused on the present.
“You can make yourself crazy about it,” Tina said.
The two encourage riders and drivers to think carefully before driving after drinking.
“I don’t think I’d get on the back of a motorcycle in the shape I was in,” Jeff said.
Russell plans to talk about his experience for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s “Zero in Wisconsin” campaign. The campaign warns drivers of the dangers of intoxicated driving.
Life has been an emotional roller coaster for Jeff and Tina since the accident, they said.
They’ve dealt with the pain and the life-altering changes that come with learning to use a wheelchair. They’ve found joy in being a host family for two members of the Janesville Jets hockey team.
They have felt loved when friends and strangers alike worked to build a wheelchair ramp and a roll-in shower stall at their Janesville home, Tina said.
Drinking a Sun Drop at a pub table at Park Place, Jeff grinned modestly when he talked about the healing process.
“I don’t show my emotions that much,” Jeff said. “But this is a pretty humbling experience.”