Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Letter from a Friend...

This is a letter sent to us recently from one of Danny's friends.

In May 2011 my friend made a courageous choice. He chose without thought to protect his sister from her attacker. This choice changed his life forever.

His act of heroism continues on almost 5 years after his brave choice. I have never met a person of such valor. Now that his sister is safe he continues to fight for his own recovery with a vengeance I have never seen.

Initially Danny was very dependent on his family for his physical and emotional wellbeing. He was only able to speak one to two word phrases, walked with a significant limp, with his arm bent in at the elbow due to his hemiplegia.

Danny’s entire family continue to provide him with an amazing support system. His Mom is constantly researching the latest treatment of TBI and was an amazing force behind Danny getting his invaluable service dog, hyper baric treatment, and ongoing cognitive and speech rehabilitation. She also is his health care advocate. His dad is his friend and will take him anywhere he needs to go. Danny’s brothers and sister are always there for him.

A lot of Danny’s strength comes from the person he will always be.  The person who did not think twice about putting his life on the line for the life of another human being. He is now living independently. He has support from his family and his trusty service dog. He could have easily given up on himself through this process. He gets on the computer and works on his speech and language skills daily. He readily shares his opinions, and his amazing love of life, his witty sense of humor. He brightens the days of all he comes in contact with.

He takes amazing care of and has unconditional love for his service dog.

He walks daily. I am not sure how far, but I know he is out for up to 2.5 hours at a time. He is currently training to walk the Flying Pig full marathon. He is really working hard in therapy and with a trainer to try and run again. He does not give up.

Danny was an avid drummer prior to his injury. He is now able to hold an adapted drum stick and is playing again with his right hand. He is also beginning to have motor control to write again with use of adapted writing utensils.  

As described in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2013 7:887 Published online 2013, Dec 24: (Nudo, 2013), the injured brain is very plastic. Brain recovery occurs with repetition and practice of meaningful motor experiences. Danny is the epitome of neuroplasticity. He is excited by challenge and continues to improve his abilities in all areas of his life. He has also taken a great deal of responsibility for his recovery and continues to take full advantage of all resources he has access to. 

For Danny there are no limits on his recovery because he refuses to set them!!!

Danny I am so blessed to know you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As in the past, would you take a moment to say a prayer for Danny’s continued healing. They say there is power in pray. We ask that you do this on Christmas Eve at 6:00 PM.
I wanted to again thank each and everyone of you. Danny has come so far with your help. This last round at UMAP, WOW!!!! I can’t believe the improvement. Everyone who’s seen him is saying the same.
I was asked about the Fifth/Third Account. Yes, it is still open. The O’Keefe Family Assistance Fund or you can go to and use the pay pal account.
We have delayed Danny’s next trip to UMAP until March. He is home for the next couple of months, taking therapy at Mercy Hospital. We love his therapists, Moe and Wes!!! They have worked with Danny for two years now and have become like family. He loves working with his personal trainer, Lisa as well! She donates her time to Danny.
He is now back to playing his drums. He told me it made him feel like he was getting a bit of his life back. He practices 3 hours each day. It’s a good work out for his arm and leg.
He’s been out with friends and family, just enjoying the holidays.  I took him Christmas shopping. It was one-stop shopping at Jungle Jim’s. We had a great time. Of course this was followed up with Skyline time.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. Be safe.
Thank you, Kathy O’Keefe

Friday, November 22, 2013

Danny's Story (this was written for the students of Moeller High School)

On May 6, 2011, a man broke into my daughter's home. He forever changed all of our lives that day. He hid in the dark early morning hours, and forced his way in. This man attacked my daughter, stabbing her multiple times. Her brother, Danny, heard her screams, and ran to her aid, changing his life forever.

I'd tried all morning to get my daughter, and then my son, by phone, text, and email. It was very unusual not hearing from them. Concerned, I called my husband, who was working at a job site, and told him. I thought I was being paranoid, but he needed to go check on them. He proceeded to pack up his gear. In the mean time, my children's one year old shepherd had barked for 6 hours straight. This puppy woke my daughter, Kelly. Her barking saved our son's life. My daughter called me, knowing she was sick and hurt, but not what was wrong. My daughter fought blood loss and multiple injuries to make that call. That call saved both of their lives. My youngest son, Kyle, got home, and I sent him too. He and his dad, Jim, got there right behind each other. I sent them into a nightmare, neither will ever forget. Things like this just don't happen in real life. It's too horrid to be real; but it is.

I've been told it's the worst crime scene the police and EMTs had ever seen. My two children laid in pools of their own blood for 6 hours before help arrived. They were stabbed in the brain, chest, neck, and arm. Once I heard from Jim, he told me to go to UC Hospital because my children would be aircared there.

Danny had to be resuscitated at sight. He barely made it to Mercy Fairfield Hospital. Aircare picked him up there. At that time, my daughter was already at UC Hospital, arriving by aircare. I was told she would have brain surgery, and then turned around and was told Danny had arrived and would be having brain surgery. Can you even imagine?

After receiving that news, I had to call my other son, Ryan (a US Army MP). He was stationed in Seattle after being deployed in Iraq for a year and a half. I had to tell him we didn't know if they would live or not, it didn't look good, and to get home as fast as he could. Because this was a high profile case, we were told by law enforcement to not talk to anyone, and were placed on lock down. We were asked to maintain our silence. We did. We talked to no one, and just waited to see if our children would live.

Our daughter, Kelly, is an assistant prosecutor for Butler County. She is back to work, working to reclaim her life. We try to shield her from the curious. Because of our silence no one knows how badly our son, Danny, was hurt. Danny was stabbed 19 times in the brain. His right hand had multiple defense wounds. His tendons were severed. He was kicked so hard his spleen was lacerated. Danny's injuries have been compared to Congress Woman Gabby Gifford. His skull was so crushed it took a year, minus 2 days, to get a skull cap replacement in

Danny has had 5 surgeries in the last year. Now we're fighting to get his life back. Danny has aphasia, which means he has trouble talking, reading, and writing, devastating to a young man who had just finished law school. He wanted to be a defense attorney, to make a difference. He was working, starting his own practice. When his whole world changed.

Danny, also has right side hemisphere paralysis This effects his right arm and right leg. It makes everyday movement, walking, dressing, eating very difficult.

Two years and half years later, we are still fighting each and everyday to get our son’s life back. We try constantly to find new treatments, therapy, ideas to benefit Danny. Funding is a major issue. He does have health insurance. It only allows 30 therapies/year. He’s on Medicaid which allows 20/year. Danny gets help from Mercy hospital with 3 hours of therapies a week in speech and occupational therapy. It’s not enough. We have been told for his speech he needs at least 9 hours a week. Mercy provides us with 3hours, leaving us struggling to get the other 6. This summer we had a private tutor for those other 6 hours, at a reduce cost of $400 a week.

For patients with aphasia an intense therapy program is recommended. A program like the one at the University of Michigan, called UMAP (University of Michigan Aphasia Program). They have therapy there 6 hours a day, five days a week.
The UMAP program cost $22,000/month. This only covers the speech therapy. It doesn’t include Physical, Occupational therapies, or his room and board. Danny went a total 7 sessions at a cost of $154,000. I’m still getting in physical therapy bills from the University of Michigan from last October, which are running in the thousands.

We have had help from the community, friends, family, churches, foundations, schools, victims’ of violent crime fund, and fund raisers to cover his bills. We are running out of resources.

Was it worth this cost? When Danny left for Michigan he could say very few words. Today, Danny can say most words and can even say a few sentences. He can communicate enough to get his thoughts across to us now. He’s relearning to read and write. He can now text me short messages. There has been great improvement, it is very slow and frustrating, but he is improving. What cost would you put on your child’s recovery?

He is walking several miles a week and has stopped physical therapy, though he is using a personal train several times a week. He is even running some sprints. He still has very limited use of his arm, but he now has movement in his shoulder and elbow. The therapist can tell you the percent of movement that has returned. She and his doctor’s have been very pleased. He’s wrist and hand movement have improved but still a major issue. Danny has started to be able to hold and pinch things with his hand. His hand and his speech have a long way to go, but his therapists are optimistic. Danny’s work ethic is his best chance of getting better.
We have had to get two braces for Danny, one for his arm and one for his leg. These braces cost were $4000-$6000. Today we’ve been advised to get him a new brace at a cost of $28,000. We are still waiting to see if insurance will cover any of this brace. It didn’t the last two. These braces help with movement in his arm and leg.

Danny has taken two 40 sessions of hyperbaric, at a cost of $8,000. We found this very helpful to Danny and would recommend it for others. It is a new therapy recommend for brain trauma. The United States Army uses it for their TBI cases. They deal with more TBI than any other medical center.

We have been told all brain injury cases are different. No one can say how far Danny can go. We do know his youthful age, his strength, his determination, his education, and his musically ability are weapons on his side. With the proper therapy he can improve, there is no time limit on his ability to get better.

My husband and my greatest fear, is what happens when we aren’t around to help him any more. Most parents have a life time to help a disabled child. We have not. We are now entering our 60’s. Danny needs to get better to care for himself, to get back to work and have a life. I do know if you stop and it’s over. You have to keep fighting for each improvement. He’s come so far. When he first came home, I was lifting him in and out of a wheel chair. He could say three words. He had no use of his arm. He is making it. I promised him, his dad and I would not quit till he had his life back.

Danny used to play the drums, but can no longer use his right arm. Danny walks with a limp, but he walks miles every week. Danny is our hero. He saved our daughter's life, but at a great cost. Danny loves sports. He played baseball, football, and soccer. He loved to read, and play the drums. He's lost it all.

His attacker was trained in the martial arts. He brought a weapon called a skull crusher with him. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison for destroying a life and forever changing our family's lives.