MONDAY PROFILE: Tony Wolfe
As blood soaked his eyes, Tony Wolfe began to crawl the eighth of a mile back to his home, feeling for the edge of a freshly cut grass path.
Tony had been cutting hay with a haybine on his 64-acre hobby farm in near Homer Ridge, Minn. in June 2011. After climbing off the tractor to adjust the haybine, he heard the parking brake snap loose.
He remembered jumping and feeling the backside of the tractor as he was hit and thrown, his face experiencing the brunt of the impact.“When I heard the click in the tractor, I knew what happened,” Tony recalled. He said if he had been able to jump two more inches, he would have walked home without injury. But reflecting on the accident later, he said he is thankful he made it as far as he did.“The dear Lord must’ve picked me up and helped me jump as far as I jumped,” Tony said. His wife, Lucy Wolfe, came outside to find her husband bloodied and badly hurt. She called 911 and a neighbor, and soon Tony was airlifted to Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. It’s been six years since Tony jumped from death, and the hobby farmer said he spends every day thankful he still gets to experience life and strives to be healthy.
Tony participates in Winona Catholic Charities’ Common Good Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Bone Builders class twice weekly, volunteers with SEMCAC as a driver and participates in water aerobics. These activities are what Tony credits as helping him maintain a healthy lifestyle after what could have been the end of his life.
Following the accident in June 2011, doctors described Anthony’s face as a bag potato chips with the amount of damage he had sustained. He had a broken nose and sustained facial fractures. In an email exchange updating loved ones of the Wolfes, Lucy explained that Tony had 11 plates and 40 screws in his face to piece parts of it back together. But he only spent four days in the hospital, Lucy said. When he came home, he was given exercises to help improve his strength. By December he was making the transition to eating solid foods again and gained back his full vision.
This allowed him to get back to helping SEMCAC, driving people to their appointments just months after a medical emergency of his own.
Tony credits his wife for helping him push through the recovery, by helping him set up doctors appointments and organizing his needs.
“She was such a big help,” Tony said. “She’s gone through a lot with me.”
To continue a healthy lifestyle and improvement, Tony also joined the Bone Builders class. The class provides strength and balance exercises geared toward older adults. Even before his accident, Tony said he was noticing signs of aging, including limited balance, but since joining the program, he said he has notice improvement in balance, strength and muscle abilities.
Tony said he would encourage other members of the community to participate, particularly men. He is one of the few currently participating.
He is often impressed with the capabilities of some of his classmates, particularly those he would not expect to see strides above him.
“Some of the older ladies can stand there and not use the chair,” Tony said, laughing about how he still needs the chair for most of the exercises. “I’m finding as I do it, I can let go of the chair momentarily.” Lucy said she too is hoping to someday join in on the class, excited for some improvement in her overall health as well.
As for the hobby farm, Tony said he still cuts hay in the same spot where the accident happened. He said it does not bother him to pass by where he once crawled toward home with a bloody face, but in reflecting on the tailspin his life was put into six years ago, he said appreciation and a sense of carpe diem are the lessons he has gleaned. “You were blessed, too,” Lucy said. “Sometimes when I get frustrated, I just get this picture out,” Tony said, pointing to a picture of his swollen, bloodied face. “Just appreciate what you have. I came so close to losing everything.”
“Sometimes when I get frustrated, I just get this picture out. Just appreciate what you have. I came so close to losing everything.” Tony Wolfe, pointing to a picture of his swollen, bloodied face.