Swim For Spencer: Senior Spencer Cobb’s Diving Accident


Adriana Zamarron , Reporter

Spencer’s GoFundMe – https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-spencer-cobb-and-family

It was Halloween night; Spencer Cobb, a member of the Senior class at Spring Lake Highschool, was doing what any teenage boy would be doing on an exciting night like Halloween–out with his friends messing about. Spencer was given a coldwater dare. With that, he dove headfirst into a pond. When he made contact with the bottom of the pond, he broke his neck. Still conscious, Spencer’s ability to move was immediately stripped from him. One of Spencer’s friends felt something was wrong when, after almost a minute, Spencer had still not resurfaced. He leaped into the pond, found Spencer, and dragged him back up to the surface. If it wasn’t for his friend, and their lifeguarding skills, Spencer may not be here with us today.

After that, everything went very quickly. Immediately, both Allison Cobb, Spencer’s mother, and an ambulance were called. Allison, who was home at the time, answered a phone call from Charles, one of Spencer’s friends, who was at the scene of the incident. He was very calm and explained to Ms. Cobb that something happened to Spencer and that he was to be taken to the hospital.

Allison arrived at the pond. She was met by Sarah Zuelke who helped to explain what had happened. Spencer and his mom were both isolated from the reality of the situation. Spencer refused to talk; he had no idea what was going on except for the imperious fact that he couldn’t move. Before the ambulance left the site, Ms. Cobb headed on her way to the hospital so she could arrive at the same time as Spencer.

When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, x-rays and CAT scans were immediately carried out; Allison wasn’t allowed to see him right away. After some tests were conducted, the surgeon came out of the operating room to meet Spencer’s parents. He explained to them that everything in the x-ray came back normal except for a certain spinal area that had been pinched and swollen. He had broken sections C4-C6 of his cervical spine. The doctor said that there wasn’t any pressing concern that would suggest that immediate surgery was necessary, but that Spencer was to undergo surgery as soon as the next afternoon so they could go in through the front side and stabilize everything. Still, everything was moving so quickly. “It was surreal–lots of people coming in…it was terrifying,” says Allison when referring back to the rapid nature of the situation. With people coming in from every which direction to ask her questions that she had herself, Allison couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed.

At first, it was very difficult for Spencer to adjust. He was experiencing anxiety attacks and was in disbelief with everything that had just happened: “It felt like a nightmare that I was just waiting to wake up from.”

When he first was brought into the hospital, Allison recalls that he kept saying that he didn’t want to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was terrified at what this might mean for him. Athletics is such an important part of Spencer’s life, and he couldn’t bear the idea that he may not be able to pursue that.

Everyone was reacting devastatingly to the incident, and for them, I imagine time slowed down. Having to face the severe actuality that someone they were so close to had been injured so terribly. Spencer’s sister, Isabelle, was at her sorority at the time of the incident. Her mom called her instantly telling her not to freak out but that something had happened to Spencer to where he needed to be hospitalized. She instantly broke down; Isabelle understood that Spencer is very resilient and athletic and he wouldn’t be taken in an ambulance unless it was serious. She was in a state of complete disorder and shock, immediately considering the worst.

Since Isabelle was in too much distress to drive, her uncle made the 1½ hour drive to MSU to pick her up. When she arrived, she went into a panic attack. She felt overwhelmed being surrounded by everything constantly reminding her of her brother’s situation. Allison was needed in the emergency room; however, they were only allowing two visitors in at a time which meant that Isabelle couldn’t go with her (Spencer’s dad was already in the emergency room). Allison brought someone for Isabelle so she wouldn’t be alone while she was in such a panicked state.

Isabelle was constantly questioning how this was going to impact Spencer’s future: “Is he gonna be okay? How is this gonna change the rest of his life? Is he gonna be happy?” There were so many questions swarming her, and no answer she made up could satisfy the constant worry that suffocated her at this moment. She felt so remorseful for Spencer especially since athletics is such an important aspect of his life; she wished that there was anything she could do. Even if she could just trade positions with him, so he could be okay.

When she did get to see Spencer the following days, she wanted to make sure that she said the right thing to him. She didn’t want him to feel like something had changed or have him feel responsible for everyone’s reactions. The first thing she said to him was something funny, “Well look what you got yourself into this time. Nice to see ya!” It was important to her that things felt normal for him.

Spencer started rehabilitation at Mercy Health Hospital a week after the incident on Halloween, and on the 8th of November, Spencer transferred to Mary Free Bed, a non-profit rehabilitation hospital.
The word began to get out about what had happened to Spencer, and the community immediately went to action. Kelly Graftema wanted to make sure that Spencer knew how loved he was, so she came up with the idea of Swim for Spencer and made t-shirts for the Spring Lake High SchoolGirls Swimming Team to wear at their conference meet. Unexpectedly, the idea took off and so many people wanted to purchase a t-shirt! Therefore, the Swim for Spencer fundraiser was formed to help with Spencer’s medical expenses.

Since the family isn’t one to usually ask for help, it took a lot for the family to accept the aid that was being brought to them, but when they did, it made such a huge difference. They were amazed that there was so much support for them in this time of need. Situations like these prove the impact that people can have on each other, all of the people who were eager to care for them and love them meant so much. Allison Cobb explained how meaningful it felt to have so many people express their support to the family: “It was beyond words. It is very humbling – I can’t even put words to it – it’s amazing!”

So many others were also eager to help. For example, Mike Rose, of Mike Rose Landscape and Irrigation, took care of the Cobb’s yard and will be plowing the driveway all winter! Also, Sara Zuelke set up a meal train page for the family. Staci Brown also started a Go Fund Me that has raised $28,410 for Spencer (and counting)! Countless people were offering their help to the family, and they couldn’t appreciate it enough.

The support was a giant motivator for Spencer especially, all the letters that the students and staff at SLHS sent him after the incident. Also, the support that he has been able to get from his family due to the tremendous amount of help others have offered. Especially his mom, who has been Spencer’s number one supporter since the incident. The incredible amount of courteousness and support that the family got from the community made it possible for Spencer to get the treatment he needs. It has meant everything to the family, and they feel so thankful to be surrounded by such great people.

The hospital says that as long as Spencer continues to make improvements on his mobility, he will stay there and continue his physiotherapy (at least 12 weeks, up to 16 depending on how he does).

Right now Spencer’s biggest long-term personal goal is to walk on the stage at his graduation ceremony and to get back to where he was before the incident. With the progress he has already made, he is anticipating how much else he can achieve. Mrs. Cobb is willing to accept whatever comes to be, but plans to continue being there for Spencer, and wishes for him to do whatever he wants to do with his life. The incident is a hiccup, and she knows that Spencer can overcome it; she considers him a miracle every day. She wants everything that Spencer wants for himself, and, above all else, for him to be happy.

Spencer is continuing his treatment, and he has so many loving people there supporting him along the way. If anyone can overcome this, Spencer can. If you would like to support Spencer you can find his Go Fund Me on www.gofundme.com by searching “Support for Spencer Cobb and family”.

Below, you will find the list of people that Allison and her family would like to honor for all of their support.

Kelly Graftema

The Brown Family

The Zuelke Family

The Marek Family

The Guczwas

The Fishers

The Wachters

The Rose Family (and Mike Rose Landscaping)

The Gilchrists

Naomi Van Singel

The Allards

The Fogels

The Peels

Nick Zacek

Dr. Moulton

All of the nurses, nurse techs, caseworkers, doctors& therapists

The Frifeldts

Every person/family that has donated, brought warm food, given gift cards, prayed, sent warm wishes, moved furniture, cheered Spencer on, sent cards or gifts, well wishes, or even a hello or how are you. Every one of these gestures meant and means the world.