When Jamie Cox decided to help pay for his nephew's medical bills, he didn't know he'd be dressing for the occasion.
Cox's sister, Cassie Wallis, and her 4-year-old twins, Gracie and Bailey, were injured in a serious car accident May 27 near their home in southeastern Missouri. Cassie broke multiple bones, and Gracie broke her left leg and suffered a large cut across her face; both are recovering. But Bailey's car seat was completely ejected from the vehicle, and after waking from a two-week coma he remains hospitalized in St. Louis with as yet immeasurable brain injuries.
"They didn't think he was going to live when he first went in there. It crushed the whole side of his skull," Cox said. "They're doing a lot of tests on him. He's starting to learn how to talk. He just started eating on his own. But they don't know the extent of his brain injuries yet."
Cox, who lives in Holts Summit, offered to help Cassie and her husband, Travis Wallis, pay for Bailey's continual medical bills by starting a fundraiser online using the website GiveForward.com. He set an arbitrary goal of $5,000 and has already raised $4,020.
At the beginning of June he offered supporters what he thought would be a small motivator.
"I told them on June 1 that if they reached $4,000 by the end of June, my friends and I would ride around on our motorcycles wearing dresses," Cox said. "It took three days, and it was over $1,000.
"If I knew that I would have made a higher bet."
Their colorful ride through Holts Summit, Jefferson City and the Eldon area, where Cox's family lives and where he and Cassie grew up, brought in a couple hundred dollars itself June 28.
Cox enlisted the help of the non-profit Full Circle Motorcycle Association's Lakeside Rollers chapter to raise an additional $2,041 for the Wallis family at a bike show benefit June 21 at Lake of the Ozarks Harley Davidson in Osage Beach, where they auctioned off items including St. Louis Cardinals tickets and held a 50/50 raffle.
As for Bailey, his condition is slowly improving.
"They're hoping to let him out Aug. 28. But that all depends on the tests and everything, and they still have to go to therapy all the time," Cox said. "He can't stand and walk on his own yet. He can pull himself up, but his right side he still can't use very well. He can say two words; he can say "egg' and "hi.' He won't talk unless he knows for sure he can say the words, the doctors said."
Donations can be made online to the Wallis family's medical fund at giveforward.com/fundraiser/p2s4/bailey-foundation, where Cox also posts periodic updates on Bailey's condition.