As beloved Seven Lakes resident David Cheek was playing with his grandchildren in the water the day after Father’s Day, he took a shallow dive which resulted in a traumatic injury.
“He hit his head on the bottom, and he barely felt it,” explained David’s middle child, Holden. “He was instantly numb from the neck down.”
David was face-down in the water, unable to move until his twin grandsons flipped him over minutes later. It was then that he was finally able to call to his eldest son, Tyler, for help.
“The twins were thinking he was playing,” Holden said. “Luckily there were people at Sequoia. They were able to stabilize him and he was air lifted to Chapel Hill.”
While no bones were broken, the situation remained serious. David had damaged his C1 and C2 vertebrae. A bone was surgically removed to relieve compression.
“The doctors said a lot of people with these injuries die,” said David’s youngest son, Conner.
Fortunately, all of the family was in Seven Lakes to support each other during this time. Tyler lives locally and has four children. Holden was staying in Seven Lakes with his wife and five month old while waiting for his house to be built in McLendon hills. And Conner moved home due to COVID-19 after graduating from university in Manhattan.
“I can’t imagine not being with family during this time,” Conner said.
Holden, who works as an engineer in Raleigh, has been carrying his dad’s business, Cheek Brother Builders, while his dad is in rehab. He currently works the business during the day and resumes his engineering duties at night to help support the family.
David is expected to be in rehab in Chapel Hill until July 16th. While his limbs continue to have a numb or tingly sensation, he is slowly regaining some mobility.
“They’re teaching him how to balance, walk stairs, and motor skills,” Holden said.
Within a year, David is expected to be at maximum progress with his recovery. However, he will likely never have full mobility again.
“The surgery wasn’t a fix-all. It was just preventative. He needs physical therapy and time, but they don’t guarantee feeling will come back,” Holden said.
“He says it feels like when your leg falls asleep,” Conner said.
While David’s life may never be the same, the family hopes to support him in his recovery to help him gain back the independence he once had.
“He’s always been the caregiver. This isn’t like him,” Holden said. “He’s usually 100 miles per hour, running circles around us.”
“He thought he was going to wake up the next day and be fine,” Conner added.
David’s wife, Jerry, has been driving up to Chapel Hill daily to visit. Unfortunately, due to restrictions, she is unable to stay overnight with her husband.
Since the injury, the Cheek family has received an abundance of prayers, positive thoughts, and support from community members and friends.
“It’s been very overwhelming and pretty amazing to have so much support,” Holden said. “It shows how much he means to this community. Any kind of positive energy he can get from that is awesome.”
With the cost of traveling, supporting the family, and medical bills, the Cheek family has begun fundraisers as a way for the community to further support as friends and neighbors.
A David Cheek Fundraiser has been started at First Bank in Seven Lakes. Donations may be made directly at the bank.
A GoFundMe account has also been created to help with expenses: CLICK HERE for David Cheek’s GoFundMe.
For those who would like to send their love to David and his family, please mail cards and letters to PO Box 467, West End, NC 27376.
“It’s touching right now because his spirits are so low,” Holden said. “Getting cards is a constant reminder of the support he has.”