Personal strength inspires Red Cross disaster responder

Red Cross disaster relief worker Jacob Tolle (l) and Daniel Schultz (r) are meeting one-on-one with families affected by the May 22 tornado in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Jason Viana/American Red Cross

Volunteers have come from many Red Cross chapters across the country to help the north Minneapolis residents recover from the devastating tornado that swept through town on May 22.

Take Jacob Tolle, 20, a caseworker for the Red Cross. Here from Cinncinati, Ohio, he has been trained for Red Cross disaster relief deployment for only five months.

“I want to give my attention to the families in need,” says Jacob.

His inspiration is one of amazing strength. At the age of 16 Jacob decided to take part in a demolition derby. The night before the derby Jacob’s stepfather told him he was nervous and thought participating in the derby was a bad idea. Despite what his father told him, Jacob took the risk.

“Not more than ten minutes into the derby my car started on fire and the whole car shot into flames while I was trapped inside with my seat belt on,” Jacob explains.

He was rescued from the burning car and rushed to Adams County Hospital where he was given multiple numbing medications.  From there he was sent Shriners Hospital Burn Center.

“From day one of treatment, the doctors told me that I would be unable to walk for at least 6 months,” says Jacob.

With perseverance on his side, Jacob walked with a gait belt support within 3 days of his recovery treatment. A week later he walked on his own to check-up at the hospital.

Jacob has used his accident as a way to inspire others to never give up.

“That’s why I volunteer for the Red Cross, because of the devastation of someone telling you that you won’t walk,” say Jacob.

Jacob arrived in Minneapolis on May 27, just a few days after the tornado,and he plans to stay and help until things settle down.

(Reporting by Nicole Baier, Red Cross volunteer)

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