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Oyster roast to benefit accident victim
Beneficiary of annual oyster roast fundraiser optimistic over physical improvements

Date published: 3/2/2010

By Rob Hedelt

BEING awakened in the middle of the night by an itchy foot isn't a big deal for most folks.

But for Steven Mitchell of Spotsylvania County, who was paralyzed from the chest down after a shallow-water dive on vacation in the Dominican Republic, that itch was a godsend.

"In the past two months, each day I'm getting a little more feeling back," said the scrappy 27-year-old from his family's home last week. "Some of my doctors said I shouldn't hope to ever walk again, but I'm going to prove those rascals wrong."

This weekend, Steven and his family will have a host of folks in their corner. He's the beneficiary of the 26th annual Oyster Roast sponsored by Fairview Baptist Church and White Oak Equipment Co. Hundreds are expected to visit the Saturday event that's donated more than $590,000 over the years to local people dealing with special needs over the past 25 years.

The Mitchells--Steven, brothers Michael and Kelly and parents Kelly and Yvonne--have nothing but gratitude for the oyster roast and other events benefiting Steven over the past few months.

Though he has good health insurance from his job with the Spotsylvania County utilities department, there are yearly limits and expenses that go way beyond what insurance will cover.

"It's amazing how many people we've heard from since this happened to Steven who have family members dealing with similar sorts of injuries," said Kelly Sr. "It's helped to talk to others who have gone through something similar."

As explained in an earlier story on Steven, his accident happened during what was to have been a two-week vacation in paradise.

On a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, Steven dived headfirst into water he assumed was fairly deep.

It wasn't, and the collision with the bottom broke his neck, with bone fragments from two disintegrated vertebrae causing trauma to his spinal cord.

Three surgeries and four months in hospitals and a rehab center brought him home to Spotsylvania without the use of his legs and limited use of his arms and hands.


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WHAT: 26th annual Benefit Oyster Roast WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m. WHERE: White Oak Equipment, 358 Kings Highway, State Route 3 east in Stafford County MENU: Fried and steamed oysters, hot dogs, coleslaw, chips, homemade deserts COST: A donation is requested. All event expenses are covered by local businesses.