Sunday benefit will help family after paralyzing car crash


When tragedy strikes individuals in Havre, the town can't seem to help but rally support for the victims.

This Sunday, from noon to 3 p. m., the Eagles Club will be hosting a benefit lunch, with performances from North Star Dance Studio and the Milk River Band, for Brandon and Billie Nelson and their seven children.

Brandon was in car crash on Jan. 7, broke two vertebrae and was left paralyzed.

He spent the next two months in Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, first in the ICU and then in rehabilitation, until he returned home a few weeks ago.

Before the accident, Brandon was working in pipeline construction, in Havre and east in Sidney.

His wife, Billie, was working at a restaurant in Havre, but she left that job to take care of their seven children, ages 11 to 6 months, and help the family move into the new house they just purchased.

"The night of the accident was my last day of work, " Billie said. "We were moving in February. I was going to stay at home and pack and be a stay-at-home mom. "

Juggling all these responsibilities has been difficult for the family, but Billie said the family, the children, have been able to make it work with help from their friends and family members.

"(The kids) have been doing rather well, " Billie said. "They were upset obviously, but we've had so much help from family and friends that could watch them when I couldn't be here, when I was Great Falls with Brandon. "

Billie said that Brandon's doctors are reluctant to make too many predictions about Brandon's condition, but, because the accident didn't completely break his spine, they did say that within a year he should have recovered some movement in his fingers and triceps.

He receives physical therapy three days a week in Havre and goes to Great Falls twice a month for occupational therapy and follow-up appointments with his surgeon.

Billie's aunt has organized this weekend's benefit lunch to help raise some funds for the family. People will be able to contribute on Sunday with a free-will donation for the meatball dinner, 50/50 ticket sales and a raffle for a half of a beef and a quilt. The entertainment, from North Star dancers at 2 p. m. followed by the Milk River Band playing their Hi-Line twang, will be complimentary.

But Billie said she is mostly glad to have an opportunity to thank all of the people who have already helped her family in this overwhelming time.

"Brandon and I were just more hoping that people would come because we've gotten so much help from people already that we just hope they would be there so we could thank them, face-to-face in person, " Billie said. "You want to thank everybody, but it's hard to remember everybody. That was probably the hardest part of this whole time in our life is accepting all of this help.

"There are so many loving, caring people out there. It's pretty amazing. "


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