FC update: Dukies -- past, present and future -- join vigil for incoming freshman Jay Ruckleshaus, seriously injured in a diving accident

✔✔✔ It is not embellishing to say that Dukies of all generations -- from alumni, to faculty, to current students and to members of the Class of 2015 who will arrive on campus next month -- have joined in prayer and encouragement for Jay Ruckelshaus.

It's an outpouring of support similar to that seen in his Midwest hometown, Fishers, Indiana, where the word "neighbor" knows no boundaries. Where a family friend who has been in repeated contact with FC spent Saturday with his son doing yard work at the Ruckleshaus home, the 97 degree heat and high humidity be damned. Where classmates at the Catholic prep school where he was valedictorian have united in masses and Holy Communion. And where, at the O.A.R. concert in Indianapolis on Friday night, some of his favorite musicians led a shout-out.

Read, please, this post from the internet:

Hello Jay and Family! My husband works with your neighbor Derek Sprunger. We haven't met you but have read about how smart you are in the newspaper when they featured all the top graduates! You are in our thoughts and prayers and we look forward to hearing about your accomplishments in the future!! The Qualkinbush Family

Brenda Barker Qualkinbush

As FC readers know, Jay suffered a substantial injury eight days ago when -- on a hot summer's night -- he dove from a waterfront patio at the home of a buddy into a reservoir that was only three feet deep. Luckily, one of his buddies was a lifeguard, who pulled him ashore.

No one knows the long term outcome.

Jay, with perfect math SAT score, verbal skills almost to match, turned down Harvard. Turned down Yale. Turned down the most prestigious scholarship at his home state Indiana University. He won an Angier Buchanan Duke Scholarship, showing precisely why they exist: to bring to Duke the absolute best from all over the nation, just as the BN Duke Scholarships are aimed at keeping the best North Carolina students from fleeing north.

To compete Jay's resume: cross country team, a rower at the Indianapolis Rowing Center, planning a career in public policy or international affairs, hoping to go to law school as an avenue to do so.

Before we get to the latest condition report, Loyal Readers, please read some of the messages from fellow Dukies that we have spotted.

Hi Jay,
You don't know me yet, but I'm going to be in your freshman class at Duke. I'm so sorry to hear about your injury, but you will fight it through in true Blue Devil form. You are in my prayers!

Ryan Dhindsa


Hi Jay,
You don't quite know me, but I want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I know you have a wonderful family supporting you at home, but you are also a part of the Duke family that is also praying for you and ready to support you. I wish you all the best and hope to see you around at Duke!

Stay strong and positive!

Bret Lesavoy


Dear Jay,
I (know I speak) on behalf of all of the upperclassmen, as a member of Duke 14', when I say that we are so excited to meet you come August. I'm praying for a speedy recovery and hope that we become great friends in the future. If you ever need anything at Duke do not hesitate to come to me.

All the best,
Michael Farruggia


I know we don't know each other personally, but I wanted to make sure you knew that you have my thoughts, prayers, and support. You also have the support of the whole Duke family behind you, and we are all praying for your speedy recovery so that you can spend the next four years having the time of your life at Duke with the rest of us. You have so many positive thoughts and prayers coming your way, so keep your chin up! :)

Kristen Wade


Some future Dukies met Jay at the AB Duke competition weekend last spring.

Hi Jay,

I know we only met once or twice during the AB weekend, but I just wanted you to know that you're in my thoughts and I know you'll pull through like the amazing person you are. I can't wait to see you again at Duke.

Wishing you a speedy recovery,

Olivia Chen



You are in my prayers and thoughts. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you pretty soon at Duke. Your sense of humor can get you through anything :) Wishing you a healthy recovery.

Nonie Arora


Hi Jay,

Even from the AB weekend, it was apparent that you were in every sense a great kid. Best wishes for your recovery.

Brendan Farmer


Hey Jay,

Hope to see you strong and well at Duke!

Warm wishes,
Faraz Yashar

Officially, the University has affirmed Jay's scholarship will be available whenever he comes to Duke. Now is not the time or place to get into our frustration. but we extracted that bit of vague information from Michael Schoenfeld, vp for public relations, only after four e-mails. He would not say if President Brodhead had been in personal contact with the Ruckleshaus family. Nor what official represented Duke.

And now the latest condition report.

On Wednesday, Jay's temperature spiked, alarmingly high, believed to be a reaction to medication. That is now under control.

He remains sedated most of the time, although his father read him the newspaper between dozes this weekend.

The key in the next few days will be to strengthen his pulmonary function, and wean him from a life support respirator. Originally this was scheduled this past week, and we do not know at all how to interpret the delay.

The question on everyone's mind, as to where this fracture-dislocation of the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae will lead, is simply unanswerable. "He currently has no feeling below his chest, but that's typical at this stage of recovery for his injury and it is not yet known what functionality he will have over time. It will be days or possibly weeks before we know."

He had no brain damage.

As a friend posted:

"Jay understands that he is in the football game of his life, and God is the quarterback. To use another Ruckelshaus Sports Analogy, "this is not a sprint; it is a full marathon."

Thank you for reading FC.

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