A courageous start takes tragic turn

Robyn Budd is proud of the three daughters she’s raised.

Growing up in a split home in Howland, personal strength and self-reliance were her rules.

Middle daughter Csala, 30, (say “Chella”) used her strength to see Dan Beers for the great, adventurous guy that he is, and she became his wife in 2013.

What others close to her saw that she would not:

Dan is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.

In 2002, Dan was riding on a country road near his home north of Allentown, Pa. His mind wandering a bit, he took a turn a tad too fast, and his motorcycle left the road.

He has not had use of his legs since.

But he would live — and live an adventurous life he has. Whitewater rafting, a special mono-ski for snowy mountains, a hand bike for roads and even an ocean swim on a special beach wheelchair.

About the only thing he never expected out of life was marriage.

At a 2005 July Fourth party, he met Csala, who was visiting older sister Rebecca Buckner.

“I never saw the wheelchair,” she said Friday. “I just saw a great guy.”

A year later, the 2002 Howland High School grad had her first date with Dan — ATV riding of all things.

By 2007, Csala had moved to the area and began her pursuit of a degree in elementary education while also working a full-time job. In 2013, boyfriend and girlfriend became husband and wife.

“There were a lot of people who questioned Csala about her choice,” said Robyn. “I just said, ‘If your heart is telling you this is the right person, that’s all that matters.’”

They were two committed souls who knew how much they would have to count on each other to make this work.

Fate threw them an unimaginable curve Feb. 1.

It might be more fair to call it cruel.

Csala drove to the store to get milk. It was along the same country road that cost Dan his abilities in 2002.

On that snowy Super Bowl Sunday morning, it would cost Csala hers.

Just three-tenths of a mile from where Dan had his crash, a cat jumped into the road. Csala swerved, lost control of her truck, and tumbled into the farm field. And she, too, would become paralyzed.

(CLICK HERE TO VISIT CSALA'S Go Fund Me donations page)

“I kept telling myself to wake up — hoping it was a dream,” said Csala. The land owner rushed out to help, and Dan would arrive 10 minutes later from their home a mile down the road.

“I had a hard time looking at him, and I just apologized to him. I wanted to care for him, and now this happened,” Csala said.

Robyn was in Florida on business when the call came. She works for Schaefer Equipment in Warren.

“I love all my son-in-laws, but it’s not normal for them to call me,” she said, recalling her phone showing Rebecca’s husband calling. Her heart sank, and she expected the news to be about her grandkids or Rebecca.

Robyn was told only that Csala was in a crash, she’s alive, but that she had to come to Allentown immediately.

“I said, ‘You know I’m in Florida working.’ He just said, ‘Robyn — you need to come today,’” she said, tearing as she recounted the call.

Her youngest daughter, Bethany Williams at home in Niles, made the flight arrangements while Robyn packed. It was 1 p.m., and she was in Pennsylvania by 11:30 p.m.

Csala’s dad, Bill Peters, arrived the next day from his home in Florida. Their extended family includes a brother David in North Carolina.

They’ve all been focused on Csala ever since.

After her initial hospital stay, Csala was transferred to Good Shepherd Rehabilitation in Allentown to a stunned staff who knew Csala as Dan’s wife who helped at various events. Dan is always there for therapy and also volunteers to help new families cope with understanding and adjusting to a loved one’s paralysis.

Rods are in her back to stabilize her spine, and it will take several weeks to learn what permanent mobility she will have. She has daily physical therapy to keep the muscles moving until everything stabilizes.

Compounding the physical destruction is the financial.

Dan has been on partial disability since his accident and lived at home until his marriage.

Their Plan A in life was Csala.

There was no Plan B.

She had just completed school and was in training at her new job. She hadn’t qualified for long-term disability coverage yet.

So amid the healing, there is planning to figure out how to make life and expenses happen — from home payments to home remodeling to a new handicapped vehicle and more. (The wrecked truck was Dan’s only specially equipped vehicle.)

Rebecca established a GoFundMe.com account that has a goal of $100,000. There, she posts updates on Csala’s daily ups and downs.

Robyn will travel on weekends to help them. Bill likely would not have left, said Rebecca, if not for some work needs. He spent the first week on the phone calling every place in the country to learn rehabilitation options.

“We’re determined to have her walk again,” said Rebecca.

“We’re just of this belief that who she is and what she’s done in life — this was just not meant to be.”

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

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