Great Falls Exchange student still paralyzed after ski accident, but locals rally to support him

Posted By: Selma Al-Faqih on April 5, 2010 8:03 am

Kun Ho Kim, a foreign exchange student studying in Great Falls from Korea, headed to Showdown Ski Area on Sunday, March 14, for a day of skiing with his friends.

Three weeks after surgery on his back, exchange student Kun Ho, 16 is still paralyzed. His legs won’t move, but the support he and his family are getting is easing the pain. As reported by Erin Madison, of Great Falls Tribune.

Kun Ho Kim doesn’t remember his accident, and has skied before in both his home country of Korea and in Montana, his current location. He was skiing with friends when he went over a jump, lost his balance in mid air, and landed on his back, breaking several vertebrae. He was airlifted to Benefis Health system and underwent surgery. When his family found out he had been in an accident, they flew the long 30 hours to be with him.

Kun Ho is a well-liked student at Great Falls High, and has received an outpouring of support from the school. Even the nursing staff bought him an Xbox to help pass the time. The school gave his family a gift card of $1,200 by collecting from students and staff to help with expenses. Friends and teachers drop by with food and cards, even a local Korean family brought some home cooking to the hospital. His host father has stopped by nearly every day.

Kun Ho has a traveler’s insurance plan purchased through his student exchange organization. The company refused the transfer. When local attorney Greg Pinski heard about the situation through a friend who teaches at Kun Ho’s school, he stepped in to help. “He’s a spirited young man, (and) just a phenomenal student.”

His father and sister Stella have returned to Korea, but his mother will travel back with him likely this week, when he is ready. He has feeling in his right leg, but no movement yet. Kun Ho remains positive;
“I will be able to,” he said with a smile.

His sister and their mother, Young Lan Kim, appreciate the support they’ve received since they arrived.
“We want to thank everybody who has helped us,” Stella said.

We at The Ski Channel wish Kun Ho a speedy recovery and a safe flight home.