Black Mountain community raising money to help former track coac - FOX Carolina 21

Black Mountain community raising money to help former track coach paralyzed in accident

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Britten Olinger was left paralyzed after the accident one year ago (FOX Carolina) Britten Olinger was left paralyzed after the accident one year ago (FOX Carolina)
Britten Olinger (Source: Family) Britten Olinger (Source: Family)

For much of his two young kids' lives, Britten Olinger has been in and out of the hospital. At first fighting for his life, but at some points also battling pneumonia.

"You start feeling sorry for yourself and your pity parties and I think a lot of times I remember and my mind goes to 'you're pretty lucky that you're here'," Olinger said.

He's stuck in a chair, paralyzed from the chest down after police said a drunk driver smashed into his car, leaving it almost unrecognizable. He's always been a fighter, through all the hospital visits he said he just wanted to be home with his family. Special moments with them, now becoming the new norm.

"My daughter especially, she sits on my lap and watches YouTube videos,” Olinger said. “And being able to help with Easton and my wife and being back with the kids and just being present."

It's been one year since the accident and Olinger said he wouldn't have been able to get this far without his family and his community backing him along the way.

"It's been surreal because normally you see this day as kind of like a down day, not a day you really want to remember,” Olinger said. “But it's cool a year later that people are still willing to support you and go far beyond what they need to be doing."

Throughout the streets of Black Mountain you can see signs and fliers reading #brittenstrong. The Town Hardware Store is one of several businesses donating their proceeds to help get the former track coach some much needed exercise equipment.

Those who work there said the accident changed them. It happened right in front of their store, the impact shattering their windows. Glass from the front doors flew all the way to the back of the store.

"It was very emotional the first time they came in after that,” said Owner Peter Ballhaussen. “We've just got a bond with the family because of the accident occurring outside of our store and it's special every time they come.”

The family did make a visit to the store on the anniversary of the accident and Olinger said while the day brings up lots of painful memories, it's hard to be sad when he has so much to live for.

"My time isn't done yet and there's more to be told and I'm just grateful to be back with my family," Olinger said.

There are two exercise machines, one is like a bike that will help Olinger get moving. He's down 120 pounds and said right now he has no way of gaining muscle back in his legs. Insurance doesn't cover those costs, so if you'd like to donate click here.

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