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Kevin Graves benefit set for Saturday

Kevin Graves

Kevin Graves, who was severely injured in a January car crash, continues to improve.

Graves, 31, was driving on Irvine Avenue North the morning of Jan. 5 when his vehicle struck a wayward horse. His neck was broken in two places, and he was flown from the scene to Hennepin County Medical Center.

He now is at Bethesda Medical Center in St. Paul, where he continues to show signs of progress.

"He's doing well," said C.J. White, who has been Graves' friend since they met at Central Elementary School.

A benefit has been planned to help Graves' family with medical expenses. The benefit will be from 3-6 p.m. Saturday at Bemidji United Methodist Church, Ninth Street and Beltrami Avenue Northwest. The benefit will feature a fry bread taco feed and a raffle. Tickets are $7.

Nearly 300 tickets originally were produced for distribution, but White said he has run out. He just got 200 more.

"The support from the community has been huge," White said.

In addition to the benefit, change jars have been set up at Orton's gas station, Irvine Avenue Northwest and Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest, and at Murphy's USA, located next to Wal-Mart.

"The biggest (impact) so far has been the change donations," White said.

Graves' wife, Monica, whom he married in October, has been staying in St. Paul with Kevin's mother, Helma. Graves' and Monica's son, Mason, 2, visits on weekends.

"I don't think you could drag them away with wild horses," White said, noting the constant support from family and friends.

In the three-plus months since his accident, Graves has suffered a few setbacks, but is making progress.

His "halo," the device that keeps his body stabilized, was removed earlier this month.

It was a "big uplifting event" in the Graves' family, according to a posting on Graves' CaringBridge Web site. "He can lie in bed without the neck brace, so much lighter."

Also, he no longer is relying on his tracheotomy, which was plugged about one week ago.

"He's doing really good," White sale.

Graves is eating and drinking well, and he continues to gain strength.

"He's sitting up more now, which is good," White said.

He is moving his arms and gaining better control, but his fine motor skills, such as picking up a pen or other small object, still have not returned.

To purchase a ticket for the benefit and raffle, contact C.J. White at 556-4679.