Austin’s Fuel Room to host fundraising concert for injured man
BY KATLYN SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org | @Katlyn_eSmith November 1, 2013 3:48PM
Austin's Fuel Room in Libertyville will host a fundraiser to aid the family of Jody and Conna Rech, after Jody was hit by a dump truck early this fall. Conna is a teacher at Butterfield School. | Submitted photo
What: Benefit concert for Jody Rech
When: 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17
Where: Austin’s Fuel Room, 481 Peterson Road, Libertyville
Donations also can be sent to: Conna Rech at 5250 Grand Ave., Suite 14-155, Gurnee, IL 60031
Updated: December 3, 2013 6:03AM
Butterfield School teacher Conna Rech reads her young students a simple story.
It’s one of her first days back at the Libertyville school since her husband’s accident.
And she tells them a tale about a fisherman who, every night before he hauls his catch, pauses to listen to a nightingale. It’s the stop-and-smell-the-roses message that Rech says she’s only really grasped in recent months.
“After what’s happened in my life, I really want to stop and think about the little things that are beautiful,” Rech said.
Like he had done so many times before, her husband Jody Rech, a tech coordinator at Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove, decided to take a bike ride on a course near their Kenosha, Wis., home. The couple had just logged their first week of school, and Jody wanted to get in a twilight cruise before the Green Bay Packers pre-season game.
He was crossing a street when he was struck by a dump truck in Racine Aug. 23. The accident left him with fractures in his skull, spine and ribs. He suffered a collapsed lung and lacerations to his liver and kidney.
Jody would spend more than two weeks in a medically-induced coma.
“There were moments where we were discussing if he was going to live or not with the doctors,” his wife said.
She credits her faith and her husband’s competitive drive for his remarkable progress. Despite severe back pain, he is starting to slowly walk again.
“When he sets his mind to something, he’s up and running,” Rech said.
But weeks later, he still requires around-the-clock supervision. He has issues with short-term memory from the injuries to the frontal region of his brain. Twice a week, he receives speech and occupational therapy. And he will likely undergo surgery on his ears.
Blood collected behind his eardrums, robbing him of the ability to clearly hear his music. For decades, he sang and shredded guitar in bands that blended a love of ’80s metal, blues and rock. He hasn’t played since before the accident.
“His ears are his most frustrating part,” Rech said.
While the Rechs have medical insurance, the family faces looming quality-of-life costs. As Rech puts it, they have had to turn their home into a “giant safety zone.”
“He still has an incredible way to go,” she said.
Supporters from Libertyville School District 70 and Aptakisic-Tripp School District 102 have rallied behind the family. And on Sunday, Nov. 17, his bandmates will play a gig at Austin’s Fuel Room in Libertyville to raise funds for the Rechs.
Shawn Hutchings says Jody first taught him how to “rip a killer guitar solo” during rehearsals in garages after classes at Wheeling High School. The pair eventually formed the acoustic group Purple Locomotive.
“Music is such a huge part of his life and what makes up his being,” Hutchings said. “And to have the possibility of wondering if you can do that again, it breaks my heart.”
The Lake Zurich man is encouraging musicians to tap into Jody’s favorite covers and songs off his five albums for the concert.
“The main focus is to lift him up,” Hutchings said.
The Rechs have a 16-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. Cami Rech has Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects social behaviors.
“We always thought that her situation was our big challenge in life, assisting her and helping her,” Conna Rech said. “That’s nothing compared to this. It’s just a lot to deal with.”
She shows little emotion talking about her husband’s medical needs. She explains that she has to be an advocate for both her husband and daughter.
“If I can’t stay strong for them, I can’t speak for them,” she said.
The educator returned to Butterfield this month after helping her husband transition from the hospital to their home. She finds comfort in the classroom, where she teaches gifted students who excel in first- through fifth grades.
“They have been so fantastic for my spirit,” she said.