Shortly after Jody Rech returned from work at Meridian Middle School on the first week of the school year, his life changed in an instant.
Rech was riding his bicycle near his home in Wisconsin when he was hit by a dump truck. He suffered multiple fractures, a collapsed lung and a traumatic brain injury. He was airlifted to a hospital and placed in a medically induced coma.
It’s a story that his wife, Conna Rech, details on her CaringBridge page, and it continues to unfold. Rech has made tremendous progress since Aug. 23 — he is beginning to walk, and memories are starting to return — but he requires constant care and remains in the hospital, his wife wrote in an Oct. 4 progress report.
While the Rechs have medical insurance, Jody is undergoing “expensive rehab not fully covered by insurance,” said his friend, Buffalo Grove resident David Wells.
The two men, who are both musicians, met when Rech joined Wells in a band called Bemhos in the early 1990s. The two later reunited for a benefit performance for another one of Wells’ friends, he recalled.
“Any time you perform with people, you establish a sibling-type relationship,” said Wells, who has joined a volunteer committee that is raising funds for the Rech family.
“I just thought, ‘He needs help.’ I needed to return the favor,” Wells said.
That favor will come in the form of Rech Razor, a public benefit concert scheduled for November in Libertyville. The event will feature the music of the Yadi Yodi Band, which will play Rech’s own music as well as some of his favorite covers. Other musicians who have performed with Rech over the years will take turns backing the band.
“We’re going to take this tragedy and turn it around and keep the family in good spirits, as well,” Wells said.
Jody’s wife, Conna, is a teacher at Butterfield School in Libertyville, according to the school's website. They have a daughter and a son.
“Even though Jody was not a music teacher, music has always been a big part of his life. Our primary objective is to celebrate Jody’s love of music by performing it on stage,” Wells said.
Rech has worked in School District 102 since 1998, said district spokeswoman Vickie Walter. His most recent assignment was as a creativity innovation specialist who helps staff and students integrate technology, such as iPads, into the curriculum.
Students and staff at Meridian Middle School — and District 102’s three other schools — have also held fundraisers for the Rech family.
“We really value our teachers. Everybody knows everybody,” said Walter, who noted that the entire district has rallied for Rech.
The district has collected money to pay for pizza dinners for his family and staff members donated another $1,600 in a “Jeans for Jody” effort that allowed contributors to wear denim to work, Walter said.
The staff is aware of the November fundraiser and “as many people as possible will attend,” Walter said.
The show is open to guests of all ages. Wells said he hopes the venue will reach its 750-person capacity.
Additional money will be raised through a raffle and silent auction. Donated items so far include good and services from local businesses and four tickets to a Chicago Bulls game. Organizers are seeking additional donations. Potential donors can email email@example.com.
“It looks like it’s going to be a great, successful event," Wells said.