Rebecca Koltun, a senior at Binghamton University majoring in Spanish, and her brother Erik, ’19, went skiing at Stratton Mountain in Vermont on Saturday, March 13. It was during this trip that Rebecca was involved in a life-threatening ski accident that has left her paralyzed from the neck down.
Two communities have since joined together to support Rebecca — the BU community and her hometown, Plainview, New York. An online campaign was established to help finance Rebecca’s future medical expenses, which will likely exceed $1 million in out-of-pocket expenses in the first year alone, according to the campaign page. Additionally, the donation money will be used to help fund various home modifications, including a customized van, specialized exercise equipment for strengthening and preventing atrophy in her muscles and a wheelchair. All donations can be made here. As of March 31, Rebecca’s campaign has raised $386,309.
Rebecca’s parents, Scott and Audrey, were in Plainview at the time of the accident and were notified over the phone of the accident, according to the campaign’s webpage.
“I was told the situation was dire — that my dear Rebecca was found without a pulse and that while they had revived her she kept losing it, and they had to keep doing CPR to get her back,” Scott wrote on the campaign page. “I was told that she was without oxygen for a period of time, and this could result in her being brain-damaged or brain dead. It was made clear to me that she may not survive the helicopter ride to [Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center] and that the team of no less than 20 doctors had done everything they could to save her.”
With COVID-19 restrictions still in place across the country, the family was not immediately able to see Rebecca. Waiting outside the hospital, the family was able to call the doctors for an update.
“We then called the [emergency room] and spoke with someone who went through a ton of medical jargon and said Rebecca, although seriously, seriously injured, was following basic neurologic commands,” Scott wrote. “We were also told that it appeared Rebecca had sustained some very severe neck fractures very high up on her neck. They were bringing her in for an emergency MRI and would make a determination if emergency surgery was necessary. Later that night we were told emergency surgery, meaning that evening, was not necessary. She would, however, need surgery over the next 48 hours to stabilize her spine. The doctor also confirmed how severe the fractures were and that she did not have the ability to breathe on her own and that she was on a ventilator.”
COVID-19 restrictions have since been lifted, and the family has been able to visit Rebecca. According to the campaign page, Rebecca is stable and her neurological functions are remaining normal, but she is now quadriplegic and “will be dependent on a ventilator for the foreseeable future.”
Numerous Plainview organizations as well as BU departments, including the department of romance languages, have donated to Rebecca’s campaign.
Some people have begun other means of fundraising for Rebecca. Brooke Erkus, 20, of Plainview, has started a bracelet fundraiser. Erkus is selling lime green bracelets, in support of spinal cord injury awareness, that say “Becca Brave.” All proceeds from these bracelets will be going directly to the Koltun family, according to Erkus’s Instagram page.
During her time at BU, Rebecca was a lead research assistant for B-SMART, a team of undergraduate researchers looking into the effects of Adderall and nutrition on college students. B-SMART has since donated and advertised her campaign on their Instagram page.
“We love Rebecca, and she is an inspiration to our team,” the post said. “We are keeping Rebecca close to our hearts and helping in any way that we can.”