Help for the family of a Greece teacher, Webster coach after ‘the freak of all freak accidents’

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Two best friends.
A freak accident.
And now a chance for all of us to help.

In July, at his best friend’s bachelor party on the Maryland coast, a middle school teacher from Greece was seriously hurt when a rogue wave threw his body into the ocean floor.

Today, Eric Ekstrom is at a spinal cord rehab center in Atlanta.

His friends are doing their best to help his family, and they asked News10NBC to get the news to you.

Find details on the fundraiser for Ekstrom and his family below

“The freak of all freak accidents,” Steve VanDeWalle said.

VanDeWalle was at his bachelor party in Ocean City, Maryland with his best friends, including his best man Eric Ekstrom.

“We had rolled into Ocean City, the eight of us, at 4:30 p.m.,” VanDeWalle said. “And by 6:30 p.m. Eric was getting Mercy Flighted to shock trauma center at University of Maryland with a spinal cord injury. “

“What happened?” I asked.

“The waves that day were pretty large. We didn’t think anything of it. We’re grown men in our 30s. We can swim,” VanDeWalle said. He said Eric and two other friends went body surfing. “The guys I just mentioned were riding the wave into the beach and Jeremy and Evan came up and they noticed Eric was kind of floating in the water, lifeless.”

The wave drove Eric’s body into the ocean floor, breaking his neck. When his friends pulled to the beach, VanDeWalle noticed the commotion.

“It honestly reminded me of the Damar Hamlin incident with the Buffalo Bills; you know when you can just start to see people swarming and you could see panic,” he said.

Eric survived a nine-hour surgery, two weeks in trauma care in Baltimore, and two weeks at Strong Memorial Hospital and now he’s at a rehab center in Atlanta.

His wife Audrey is here expecting their first child.

VanDeWalle says just about every day, Eric does something new. Moves his shoulder. Feels his legs. Breathes without a ventilator.

“First downs every day,” VanDeWalle said. “Learning to breathe another hour on your own. Lifting that cup of coffee on your own. All these little things turn into touchdowns.”

Here are details on the fundraiser:

Where: Fairport Brewing Company, 1044 University Ave, Rochester
When: Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.