Ted Russell suffered severe burns while saving his horses, and himself, from a truck fire Aug. 7.
SUDBURY — Jean Cross of the Green Mountain Draft Association had her horses trained by Ted Russell for free.
He wouldn’t take a dime.
Now she’s returning the favor by raising money for the horse trainer, his family and his farm while he recovers from severe burns he suffered while saving his horses, and himself, from a truck fire Aug. 7.
According to Cross, president of the association, money is being raised to keep up Russell’s six-generation farming operation and to cover medical expenses until he can get back to work.
Russell, one of the early and active members of the association and a well-respected draft horse trainer, suffered third-degree burns to his hands, arms and back when the Ford truck he was driving caught fire following a day at the Addison County Fair & Field Days, which included Russell doing a free demonstration of farming with horses.
Russell was towing his two horses, Clayton and Lupine, in a trailer behind the truck when the fire started for unknown reasons.
Close to his farm when the fire broke out, Russell attempted to keep driving to get his team home safely, according to Cross.
But the flames shot into the cab of the truck and Russell had to jump out of the burning vehicle.
Despite having suffered a head injury and burns that warranted skin grafts on his hands, Russell ran back to the truck’s trailer and freed the horses.
They ran a half mile down the road back to their barn.
Russell collapsed on the side of the road, according to Cross.
He now has a long way to go, she said.
Russell, reached at his home Friday, said he didn’t have a statement prepared for the press but mentioned he is taking his recovery day by day.
Cross said the Ted Russell Fund is intended to “give him enough cushion until he can get back to work.”
The fund will help cover what insurance won’t — physical therapy, travel, and extended care needed in the months ahead.
“Moreover, as Ted is self-employed, the farm’s income will also suffer as he heals,” Cross said.
Anyone interested in donating is asked to send a check to: Ted Russell Fund, c/o GMDHA, 271 Plank Road, Vergennes, VT 05491. Donors can also visit any branch of the Merchants Bank and make a donation to the Ted Russell Fund. One hundred percent of funds donated will go directly to the Russell family.
For more information, email Cross at jmnvt@ yahoo.com.
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