Dad fishing tournament for injured son

Early on Monday, Randy Amenrud woke up around 2 a.m. not able to sleep and not knowing what to do. He got dressed in his fishing outfit, readied the boat, loaded the rods, reels, and tackle boxes, and went back inside his room at the Rainbow Motel here.
He went to the edge of his brother, Brian’s, bed, took a seat, turned the volume up on the television that already was on, and stared at the screen.
“I just sat looking at the television and I didn’t even know what I was looking at,” said Amenrud. “I was just thinking about Todd.”
Todd is Amenrud’s son—and he is facing the fight of his life. On July 4, Todd was on the slanted roof of his gazebo, getting ready to start some work, when he slipped and fell 18 feet to the ground.
The fall broke his back, crushed his L1 vertebrae, broke his T12 vertebrae, broke his heel, and fractured his leg. The mishap also has brought grief to the Amenrud household, who pray every night that their son will be able to walk again.
“Now they’ve got pins in him,” noted Amenrud. “At first, they said he wasn’t going to walk. Now they’re saying that he probably will because the operation was a success.
“He’s got feeling in his extremities and he’s got a lot of guts,” his dad added.
The surgery, done at Mercy Hospital in Minnesota, was performed two days after the accident. It started “at exactly 12:52 and didn’t end until a little after eight,” Amenrud said.
“I was a complete basket case. I was going nuts in that waiting room,” he recalled. “I’m thinking that people die in surgery and what if the surgeon makes a mistake or something goes wrong and they do more damage.
“Then the doctor came out and said the surgery was a success, and we all just dropped with relief.”
Todd Amenrud, who fished the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship with his dad from 1999-2002, was transferred 10 days after his surgery to the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis (a nationally-recognized therapy centre).
He will stay there for at least six months as therapists work with him 10 hours a day as he deals with a kind of pain most people could never even imagine.
And that is why Amenrud is here at the FFCBC with his brother—because Todd would not have started therapy unless his father went to an event they both love.
“I wasn’t going to come and he flat out told me, ‘If you don’t fish this tournament, Dad, I’m not going to start therapy until the tournament’s over,’” said Amenrud.
So Amenrud is here, preparing for the FFCBC, which he won with Gary Lake in 1996. He is fishing not only for himself, but also his 40-year-old son. Since he’s been in Fort Frances, Amenrud speaks to his son every day for at least half-an-hour about any conceivable detail about that day’s fishing.
“His attitude is really good,” said Amenrud. “And he’s very concerned about how we do up here and if we’re having a good time. He wants to know every detail.
“He asked me yesterday, ‘Are you having a good time?’
“‘We’re having a blast,’ I said.
“Are you catching any fish?
“Yeah, here and there.
“You’ve got to win this one for me.
“I can’t guarantee you anything, son, but me and Brian will try our best.”
Amenrud, now 63, suffered a severe stroke more than two years ago, which seized his speech for two months. He still has trouble remembering some details but remembers, in clear detail, the day he considers “the worst day of my life.”
He first attended mass that Sunday morning, then went over to his mother’s house, which is five miles from their church, as he and his wife do every Sunday.
Amenrud then went to the meat market to pick up some rib-eyes before heading to Todd’s place to drop them off for the barbecue the family was having for the Fourth of July.
“I was bringing the steaks over and my sister-in-law, Dody, was standing at the door and she had this look on her face and she said, ‘Don’t worry, he’s not dead or anything,’ and I didn’t know what she was talking about and she said, ‘Todd had a bad accident and he’s at Mercy Hospital.’”
Amenrud jumped into his wife’s 2001 Toyota Corolla and made it to the hospital that was 13 miles away in 15 minutes.
“It’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” said Amenrud, who compared the day to when he almost lost his wife of 40 years, Renee, when her ruptured appendix wasn’t diagnosed properly.
The accident, which at first devastated the family, now has brought them closer together—with all of their attention and energies being focused on Todd.
It also has re-priorized their lives in areas they once took for granted.
“When Todd was in the hospital, Troy [Todd’s younger brother] came up to me and said, ‘You know, Dad, I never knew how much I loved my brother until this happened.’”
Troy, in his own way of helping his brother, finished the work left on the gazebo that was the cause of Todd’s fall and also has started remodelling Todd’s basement, making it wheelchair accessible because of the likely event Todd will be confined to a wheelchair until his body fully heals.
“He told me that, ‘When Todd comes home, that basement will be 100 percent done.’”
Todd has two young daughters and doesn’t get to spend much time with them because the hospital is 35 miles from their home near Ham Lake. That is one of the main motivations for him to get better.
“With all this therapy coming up for him, it’s not going to hurt his relationship with them because they think the world of their dad, but they’re going to miss dad and that’s going to hurt Todd more than anything,” said Amenrud.
But they have faith and the family is there to support him through this trying time. They must have patience and Todd must fight. He must fight for the life he once had, the daughters he loves, and the family that cares for him.
“When something like this happens, you find out how devastating it really is when something happens to one of your kids,” Amenrud said as he held a picture of Todd and his family in his fingers.
“I tell you what, though, Todd’s one hell of a fighter and we’re going to get through it,” he vowed.
(Fort Frances Times)