By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
STUART -- Since 2010, through all the ups and downs, good times and bad, the thing that has held the Bicknell family together is their incredible love for each other.
In 2010 Barry and Kathy Bicknell's youngest son, Casey, was in an accident at the Palm Beach International Raceway. The car Casey was driving on the drag strip track went out of control and crashed, leaving him in a coma for six months.
The traumatic brain injury he sustained required brain surgery and neurologists warned the Bicknell family that Casey may never recover, but they refused to give up hope.
They took him to a hospital in Atlanta that specializes in treating his condition and against all odds Casey returned to consciousness.
Mr. Bicknell knew he couldn't sit idly by and let Casey fight to recover on his own, so he retired from banking, took a nursing course to learn how to care for Casey at home, and took him to the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation, where he has been for the last three years.
Statistics state that most families in their situation crumble under the pressure of such a hardship, but not the Bicknells.
"I think if this family's love wasn't this strong, we wouldn't stand a chance," Mr. Bicknell said.
He admits it's been tough, but his family has risen to the challenge.
Mr. Bicknell spends his weekdays in Wauchula at FINR, staying in a mobile home apartment at night and helping Casey with his therapy during the day. Mrs. Bicknell remains in Stuart, working as a pharmaceutical representative for the steady income and insurance coverage. Their older daughter Brittany is preparing to graduate with a bachelor's of science in nursing.
"On the family standpoint we're quite fractured," Mr. Bicknell said, but he doesn't want Casey to feel like he's been abandoned, so they make it work.
Every weekend Mr. Bicknell brings Casey home in their wheelchair accessible van so they can spend time together as a family. He believes it offers his son a sense of normalcy, being in his own home, in his room. They play together, laugh together, and swap hugs and kisses, just like any other family.
"I want him to know that his family loves him," Mr. Bicknell said. "When we're home we feel like a family together."
Casey may be bound to a wheelchair, but he still loves playing in the pool, going to the beach and spending time in the great outdoors. Just hearing his laughter, seeing him smile, and feeling his embrace warms the Bicknells hearts.
Casey continues to make slow but steady progress. At one time the blinking of an eye brought hope, but now he fist bumps his family and is even beginning to learn to walk again with the help of nurses and parallel bars.
"It's the love that has really given us the strength to continue and to push on," Mr. Bicknell said.
This Valentine's Day weekend he's looking forward to spending some quality time with his family and wife, sharing the love that has held them together and kept them going through everything.
The Bicknells want to convert their garage into a gym so Casey can continue his rehabilitation at home. They are hosting Casey's Hope Golf and Dinner Benefit with Auction and Jimmy Dee Entertainment on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 at Yacht and Country Club in Stuart. Auction items include a Bob Griese signed football, a Miranda Lambert signed guitar, fishing trips, vacations stays and other luxury items. Tickets are available online at www.caseybicknell.com.