Chris Leatherdale's Story

As a fire roared through his barn in Rogers, MN, Chris acted quickly to save his horses and the horses of his clients. But he couldn't save himself from burns. During his helicopter ride to HCMC, he must have blacked out, but "the flight crew said I told them I was hungry and asked if we could land at a McDonald's."

Miland Knapp, Chris Leatherdale Photo

With 46% of his body suffering burns, Chris was put into an induced coma for over three weeks and spent a lot of time at HCMC in the burn center. He endured 10 or 11 skin graft surgeries which included 299 staples. Chris had been wearing a baseball cap with a plastic strap that melted into the back of his head. He lost part of an ear but considers himself lucky.

After 5½ weeks he was moved to Knapp for inpatient rehabilitation. "The care at Knapp was amazing. The staff were honest and explained everything that was going on. They were so kind to my family and that meant a lot." He had to relearn how to eat, shower, dress, stand, walk and use his hands. He pushed himself every day walking up and down stairs – going a little further each time. But with therapy, encouragement of the Knapp team, and a lot of his own determination, he never gave up. "They found me a golf club and I relearned my swing. I have 90% range of motion back on my swing and I play almost every day."

Chris, his wife, and three sons have since moved to Nebraska and love their family life. He continues to receive treatment for laser surgery at HCMC and considers the drive a small price to pay to come here. "Great place, HCMC," he says with affection. "When can I move back in?"