CHAPEL HILL — A nearly fatal fire sparked a desire in Kim Anderson to help other survivors and honor the people who saved him.
Anderson, his family and friends founded the Anderson Family Fund in 2011 as a way to thank the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center for his treatment. Last year, the Healin with a Feelin: A Night of Burnin Love fundraising event made $12,500. The money buys sun-protection clothing, compression gloves, sunscreen and more for discharged Burn Center patients who cant afford supplies.
This years event starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Cats Cradle in Carrboro with a silent auction of donated goods and services, including baseball and hockey tickets, get out of jail free cards from attorneys, and vacation cruises. At 8 p.m., four local bands rock the Cradle.
Nearly 2 1/2 years after a house fire left him with second- and third-degree burns to 55 percent of his body and heat-induced injuries to his lungs, Anderson is working again as an architect. Hes weaning off the pain medications and soon will attend occupational therapy only once a week.
He lost a finger on his right hand to the fire and cant play the guitar very well, but hes a better person now, he says. He also has a new appreciation for the people in his life and for the Burn Center staff.
We felt like, and still feel that, the Burn Center is not well known enough and appreciated, he said. They do a job that is difficult to do, and they do it with grace and skill.
A Duke University graduate, Anderson lived in Durham for 30 years. About 12 years ago, the family moved to Laurel Ridge, north of Chapel Hill, so Drew and Emma could attend local schools.
On March 10, 2010, Anderson had finished making dinner for the teenagers. His wife, Stephanie, was out of town.
He lay down to watch the news, thinking the stove was turned off, but awoke to find it on fire and his children running outside to call 911.
He tried to put out the flames, he says. He remembers grabbing a pan, and it burned his hand. He remembers nothing after that, except Drew pulling him from the smoke-filled house.
In shock, Anderson says he didnt realize how bad his injuries were. Drew restrained him when he tried to get the garden hose, he says.
Emergency responders rushed him to the Burn Center at UNC Hospitals. Its a wonder he survived, he said.
For more than two months, doctors kept him in a medically induced coma to manage his fluids and perform surgeries. He was released nearly five months later. He has had five skin-grafting surgeries, eight or nine laser treatments, therapy, and up to 41 different medications at one time, he says.
The family now has a new home near their old neighborhood. They were lucky, Anderson says. They had health and home insurance and great support from family and friends.
The fundraiser helps people who arent so lucky, he says. Many are on Medicare or Medicaid, they have lost everything, and the hospital cant pay for their sun-protection needs after theyre released. Grafted skin has to be protected from the sun for 12 to 18 months, or it can turn brown from the pigmentation, Anderson said.
This will be the last fundraiser, although Anderson wants to find corporate sponsors interested in making $500 to $1,000 donations. The bands and volunteers might say they want to keep going, but at some point, it becomes work, not volunteerism, he says.
For now, hes helping other people fight to survive.
You get emotional about how much has been done for you. Its incredibly humbling, he said.