Community rallies to support ‘amazing young man’05/11/2021 12:19AM ● By Steven Hoffman
The community is rallying to support Jacob Tyler Yoder, a 20-year-old southern Chester County man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident last October.
Union Fire Company No. 1 of Oxford and the Oxford Borough Police Department are teaming up to take on the State Police from the Avondale Baracks in a softball tournament on May 22. The afternoon of fun includes plenty of food and drinks for sale, as well music, raffles, and more. The event, which will take place at the Oxford AA Field, benefits Jacob, who is making progress in his recovery, but still has considerable needs.
Shawn and Natasha Yoder, Jacob’s parents, said that they are thankful to everyone who is helping out with the May 22 event, just as they have been heartened by the prayers that have been lifted up for their son over the last eight months. Shawn and Natasha keep family, friends, and their southern Chester County neighbors informed about Jacob’s progress through daily updates on a Facebook group.
According to the people who know him best, Jacob was an amazing young man long before he started the valiant effort to recover from his current injuries.
In some ways, Jacob was a typical kid of his age—he liked fishing, spending time with friends, and working on his truck—but in other ways he was always very mature for his age. He prioritized spending time with family and helping others.
“He is committed to God, family, and country,” Shawn Yoder said of his son.
His parents proudly talk about some of his accomplishments.
He has gone to Honduras as a short-term missionary assisting with construction of medical clinics, church structures, and a school. He volunteered as a short-term missionary with the Joni and Friends organization to assist as an aid to the families and children that are affected by disabilities. He also assisted with raising service dogs for Canine Partners for Life.
He is enlisted in the Army National Guard and graduated from basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. He was a distinguished honor graduate, earning an invitation to Ranger School.
He has also been involved with his church, the Manor Presbyterian Church, in a variety of activities. He would go out of his way to help his family, an uncharacteristic trait for someone so young.
“He’s really an old soul,” Shawn said, adding that his son has always loved Oxford and is proud to be from the small town.
Jacob dedicated so much time to helping others, but now he needs some support after he was in a serious accident involving a tractor trailer in Maryland on Oct. 2, 2020. Jacob was extricated from his vehicle and rushed to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del. for life-saving surgery. Because of his extensive injuries, Jacob had to have an emergency craniotomy to remove the right bone flap of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. He had a traumatic brain injury and he also suffered facial fractures and a defused axonal injury of his brain stem. He underwent neurosurgery to clear two brain bleeds and he suffered several strokes during his stay in the Intensive Care Unit.
In the weeks that followed, Jacob was on life support and the doctors were not sure if he would survive. He was first in an induced coma, and then he slipped into a non-induced coma. Throughout the stay in the Intensive Care Unit, he also suffered from pneumonia and several staph infections. But he battled and he was eventually well enough to be discharged so that he could start physical rehab.
Within the first week of starting rehab, Jacob regressed and had to be moved to Paoli Hospital for surgery. There, he had a cranioplasty to replace his missing right bone flap that had been removed. The synthetic bone flap surgery worked and he was soon able to resume the rehab work. But he had another setback while at rehab and had to leave again to have a shunt placed to drain fluid collecting at the center of his brain. The shunt was successful, and Jacob began to make progress again.
Through all the ups and downs, the family has taken great comfort in their faith.
“I truly believe that everything happened for a reason,” Natasha said. “God was in this all the way.”
Jacob is now able to follow basic commands and he is beginning to actively partner with the therapists who are working with him. The road ahead will be a long one as he will need to learn how to walk, talk, chew, and swallow.
The Yoder family is working to meet his needs, such as a hospital bed, wheelchair ramps, and a handicap-accessible shower, and lifting devices to aid in moving and exercising Jacob until he recovers. They will also need a vehicle that can transport Jacob to and from his appointments.
The biggest need, however, is for a home that is large enough to accommodate Jacob’s needs because the family’s home in Cochranville can’t. Right now, Natasha spends a lot of time with Jacob at her father’s home in Nottingham. Jose Reyes has made some modifications to his home, but the ultimate goal is for the Yoder family to have a living space that can accommodate Jacob’s needs.
“He needs a bigger space. He needs a room where he can do his therapy,” Natasha explained.
They started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to buy or build a house.
When Leda Widdoes learned about some of the challenges that the Yoder family was facing, she felt compelled to help out. Widdoes is a local business owner, a former Oxford Borough Council member, and a volunteer with several organizations in the community. She knows how to bring people together for a cause.
“I knew we needed to do something for this family,” Widdoes said. “We’re here for them. There’s that saying about how it takes a village, and that village is Oxford.”
She enlisted Jim McLeod to serve as master of ceremonies for the event. Oxford Mayor Phil Harris agreed to help out. Widdoes has taken the lead in planning the softball tournament, reaching out to numerous businesses and vendors in the community. Local businesses like Herr Foods and Landhope Farms, which support so many community events, signed on right away. The Giant Company donated hot dogs. Robinson’s Furniture, Bravo Pizza, Oxford Mobil, G & F Carpet, Hostetter’s, Bellybusters, the Oxford Gun Club, Howett’s Screen Printing, Oxford Feed and Lumber, Wyncote Golf Club, Chew’s Towing, Smith Mechanical, Cumberland Truck Parts, Cameron’s Hardware, Napa Auto Parts in Oxford, Sonny Bea’s, the Oxford Women’s Club, Flickerwood Wine Cellars, Nella Naturals, and Oxford Country Chrysler are among the many local businesses and organizations that are helping out with the event in one way or another.
Widdoes said that she wanted to collect donations for gift baskets that could be raffled off. So many businesses and people in the community offered to donate items that the number of gift baskets being raffled off quickly grew to 22.
“The donations I am getting are incredible,” Widdoes said. “Everybody just says, ‘what do you need?’ They all want to help out.”
She said that everyone is looking forward to the softball tournament and the opportunity to come together to help a local family in need.
“This should be a fun day,” Widdoes said.
Harris is an eager participant in the fundraising event. He first met Jacob when he reached out to the mayor about a project that he was working on. Harris said that he was very impressed with how mature, responsible, and eager to help the young man was.
Harris said, “He has no call he won’t make, there is no door that he won’t open. I have no doubt that he is built for this and will get through this.”
For anyone who can’t make it out to the May 22 event but would still like to help out, checks can be made payable to Shawn Yoder, and they can be mailed to P.O. Box 17, Nottingham, PA 19362. Donations are also accepted at the Venmo account nyoder13.