By Becky McCauley, Champions magazine August/September 2020 issue


One late afternoon in the spring, life for the Lefler family of Fayetteville, Ark., came screeching to a halt with the sound of crashing metal.


Erin and TJ Lefler were enjoying a family bicycle outing on a Lake Fayetteville trail with their children Charlotte, 8, and James, 6. Their 4-year-old daughter Bray was also along for the ride in a screened trailer.


The trail was crowded with people walking and biking, enjoying the beautiful weather. The Leflers were just rounding a curve, passing a large group of walkers when, suddenly, another adult bike rider came barreling toward the family, music blaring.


Before Erin and TJ knew what was happening, their son was lying unconscious under a tangle of broken, mangled bicycles.


“It sounded like a car crash…it was horrible,” says Erin. “We started peeling the bikes apart, and James wasn’t moving. For a terrible split second, I thought he was dead.” The traumatized mom, fearing a serious neck injury, wouldn’t let anyone touch her son.


James soon came to and sat up, screaming and crying. Erin used her sweatshirt to wipe his face, which was covered in blood. A gaping hole right under James’ nose appeared. Erin remembers thinking, “Okay. Other than being unconscious and needing medical attention for his face, he’s at least alive. And I don’t see any bones poking out.”


After a frantic discussion with her husband about where to take James for urgent medical care, Erin says the obvious choice dawned on her—Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW).


“The car ride was so stressful. James kept falling asleep. Then he would wake up and ask me if he was dying,” says Erin. “There was nothing I could do to make him feel better. So once we got to ACNW, where they knew exactly what to do for him, I felt such relief.”


Thankfully, by the time they reached triage, James had calmed down. “James had been incoherent after the accident,” says Erin. “But by
the time we got him back to triage in the ED, he was more like himself.”


James was examined by the physician on duty. He had sustained a mild concussion that didn’t require treatment. But the hole in James’ face would need about 30 stitches inside
and out to heal.


After about a week’s recovery time, James’ stitches were removed. He was gradually able to return to his favorite activities: swimming, baseball, playing with his sisters and, yes, riding his bike with his family.


Erin and TJ are amazed at the difference between an adult hospital and a children’s hospital when caring for children. “Everyone who works at Arkansas Children’s Northwest knows how to deal with children. The needle sizes…how they put in an IV…everything. We couldn’t be more thankful for the staff—everybody we talked to was so kind.”