OREGON – Volunteer firefighter Thomas Jones, 25, severely burned in an explosion and fire on Aug. 20, is making progress and expects to be home by Christmas, his parents said.
Penny and Mick Jones of Oregon made their remarks Monday as they accepted a $14,000 check from Oregon firefighters and Assistant Fire Chief Randy Travis to help pay their son’s medical expenses.
Thomas, who was burned over 85 percent of his body, has been getting specialized therapy at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago since Nov. 21. Before that, he was at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford.
He was working on a demolition derby car in the garage behind his home at 406 S. Eighth St. when the explosion and fire occurred. Witnesses said Jones was engulfed in flames.
His fiancée, Chelsy Janssen, 22, of Mount Morris, was burned on her hands, arms, and face as she tried to help him. She was treated and released.
Including the $14,000, the Oregon Firemen’s Association has raised $25,000, which includes proceeds from an Oct. 6 spaghetti supper and a Nov. 24 benefit at the Oregon VFW, Travis said.
Penny said Thomas is “doing very well and working really hard.”
He has 4 hours of therapy every day, is learning to walk and climb stairs, and hopes to be out of his wheelchair and using a walker exclusively by the time he comes home.
“He walked 484 feet with a walker the other day,” Mick said.
“He’s beginning to get his humor back,” Penny said. “When Chelsy showed him the first check, he said ‘What are we going to use that for, dancing girls?’
“His ‘out date’ is Dec. 27th, but he said ‘Mom, I’ll be home for Christmas’.”
Cards and well wishes can be sent to Thomas at the following address:
Thomas Jones Room 608
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago,
345 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611
An account also has been set up for Thomas and Chelsy at Community State Bank of Oregon. The address is:
Jones/Janssen Benefit Account
Community State Bank
PO Box 399, Oregon, IL 61061