By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 17, 2017 at 5:01 PM

Last summer, on July 3, Adam Craig dove into shallow water in Madison’s Lake Monona, breaking his neck and severely damaging his spinal cord. With this kind of injury, the costs are astronomical – typically more than $1 million in the first year, with subsequent annual expenses around $185,000.

On Thursday, Jan. 26, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at SURG on the Water, a group of local sponsors is hosting a personal and passionate event called Shrink-n-Drink in support of Adam and to help pay for his medical care. The fundraiser will feature Dr. Julie Helmrich, a Milwaukee clinical psychologist known for serving up science with a creative twist, and a meet-and-greet with former Packers running back Dorsey Levens, a Super Bowl winner who also produced a documentary on head and neck injuries.

The event’s sponsors include Rick Schlesinger from the Milwaukee Brewers, Tina Chang of SysLogic Inc., Omar Shaikh from SURG Restaurant Group, John Utz from Associated Bank and Brian Lammi of Lammi Sports Management.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $100 and all proceeds will go toward Adam’s medical expenses and recovery. There will be valet parking available at SURG on the Water, 102 N. Water St., and beer, wine, appetizers and a silent auction during the evening. You can find more information on the event’s Facebook page, and register for it here.

Below is background, information, insight and details about Adam Craig, from his family.

Adam’s backstory: Sports, reading and music … mostly music!

We all remember Adam as a kid reading books, playing sports and learning to play the piano in the usual way, practicing his lessons. Soon, though, it was clear that he was composing simple songs at the piano and that he played music to soothe himself. Music was his thing. We remember his first band with a bunch of buddies in junior high. When he was in college, we sang, clapped and danced as he and his band played for festival crowds.

Anyone who followed Adam on Facebook knew they would NOT learn what he ate for breakfast that day or what was happening in his social life in his posts. His FB posts were almost always a link to music that none of the rest of us had ever heard of but probably should listen to. Adam’s love of music took him way beyond the piano. In total he learned to play six more instruments over his 26 years.

His practical plan was to blend the world of music with his psychology degree and do music therapy. In fact, he was intending to leave the Midwest in early fall of 2016 and head to Los Angeles to do just that. Then July 3 happened, and everything posted on his FB page was about his progress in physical therapy. That is, until Christmas of 2016, when we finally saw a little "Adam music." More on that later.

The accident, the surgery and the start of life with quadriplegia

On July 3, Adam dove into shallow water in Lake Monona in Madison. He broke his neck and severely damaged his spinal cord. Emergency surgery at the UW-Madison Hospital miraculously saved his life, but he was left paralyzed from just below his shoulders all the way to his feet. He was only able to move his head and shoulders. He had no sensation in his arms, hands, fingers, torso, legs, feet and toes.

Recovery and inpatient rehab

After spending two and a half weeks in Madison, Adam was transferred to one of the best rehab hospitals in the country: The Rehabilitation Institution of Chicago (RIC). He spent the next two months doing intensive daily physical therapy. As a result of that intensive therapy, he regained some sensation in his upper body and some minimal use of his upper arms.

At home, outpatient rehab and 24/7 in-home nursing care

Adam has been living in his handicapped-accessible apartment and doing outpatient rehab since his discharge from RIC in late September. He has a head-adapted wheelchair so, accompanied by a caregiver, he can wheel to his outpatient rehab facility, also run by RIC, which is three blocks down the street. He has learned to use technology that is run by movements of his head and a mouth stylus.

He cannot take care of his basic physical needs, so he must have in-home nursing care available 24/7. He currently has some capacity to rotate his left arm, though he does not have enough capacity to lift his arm without assistance.

Costs and funding efforts

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation estimates that care for the first year for Adam’s kind of injury is typically more than $1 million. In the beginning, that number seemed outrageous. Five months into this situation, with a total cost to date being just over $710,000 we now think that foundation really knows its stuff. We trust their $185,000 estimate for each subsequent year, too, because Adam’s 24/7 nursing care alone is over $100,000 per year.

RE: Adam’s health insurance companies. To date they have paid very little of the total cost – less than $100,000. In fact the total amount of medical claims denied so far is over $510,000, all related to Adam’s emergency care, surgery and rehab at RIC. Adam’s sister Rachel, an attorney and 2014 graduate of Marquette University Law School, will continue to appeal the denials. A new policy was recently purchased in the Health Insurance Marketplace that will hopefully provide better coverage. We are hopeful that any repeal of the ACA won’t affect Adam’s coverage through at least the end of 2017.

To date we have raised in cash and other transferable donations just over $350,000. That seems like a lot until you calculate that by mid-March we will be broke at the current rate of expenses, and that presumes that Rachel will be successful in getting the insurance company to pay for Adam’s rehab care.

With your help

Our current top-priority goal is to "get through to end of 2017."

As a family we are gearing up in various ways to be able to handle the $185,000 that will be needed each year for the rest of Adam’s life. Because we are a large family we can imagine ways of eventually being able to do that. What we can’t imagine is how to cover the next 12 months.

In the first year, there are large expenditures that don’t have to be repeated. For example: the wheelchair was $75,000. Absolutely necessary, absolutely overwhelming, and NOT something will be on the "necessities list" from here on out. Another one-time expenditure is an FES rehab bicycle that he should have at home for his in-home physical therapy. It’s $17,000. Other necessary equipment (hospital bed, etc.) will not have to be purchased next year. If we can just get through 2017 …

For sponsorship and cash donation inquiries, please contact Lammi Sports Management's Carley Sanfilippo via email at or by phone at (414) 727-3600.