At the start of 2013, Marty Dalton was like many people in the area. Trying to better himself by going back to school at Surry Community College, the 38-year-old Hillsville man was trying to get back on track after being laid off from his long-time job in textiles.
Even though he had lost his insurance, he was taking advantage of a government program to study computers at the North Carolina college. But then on January 11, everything changed in an instant.
“He was going down Snake Creek Road, a road he had driven thousands of times before,” said Judy King, Marty’s aunt. “Another driver ran the stop side and she hit him going probably 50 or 55 miles per hour. He was partially ejected through the windshield.”
Dalton’s injuries were initially reported as “pretty serious, but they didn’t appear to be life threatening.” But in reality, doctors confided in the family that they didn’t think he would make it as he was left paralyzed and virtually blind in his right eye.
“The doctor took his father to the side and said he didn’t think he was going to make it. He had blood clots in his lungs, mucus plugs, it was touch and go,” King said. “He has a complete spinal injury, which means unless God intervenes he will never walk again. He will have to catheterize himself. He is still in rehab at Baptist Hospital (in Winston-Salem, N.C.). It is pretty brutal. His right eye was severely cut. He had emergency surgery the night of the operation. He can see figures, but he can’t discern if you have one figure up or two figures. He is not completely blind, but virtually blind.”
Dalton is doing much better now, even though he is still in rehab at the Winston-Salem hospital. Without insurance, he faces astronomical hospital bills. King said doctors say Dalton is ahead of the curve now. They are trying to strengthen his upper body as he is paralyzed from the fifth vertebrae down, but does have use of his arms.
“He has had surgery on his back. He was on a respirator for some time, tubes and the whole nine yards. My sister is still down there. She has not been home since January 12,” King said. “His dad is up at the trailer now. They are renovating it. It will have to have a ramp and they are waiting for a special bathroom setup for him. It is brutal, but he is alive.”
An avid sports fan, Dalton played golf at Carroll County High School, where he graduated in 1992. His daughter, Shyann, was a valuable member of the Lady Cavaliers’ basketball team that won the Region IV championship last year and advanced to the Group AA State Semifinals in Richmond. King said he is also a good hunter as he loves to hunt with his dogs and go to dog shows.
To help Dalton, the Marty Dalton Benefit Lunch and Auction will be held Sunday, April 14 at 11 a.m. at the Grover King VFW Post 1115 building in Hillsville. The benefit is sponsored by Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and will feature singing by area groups during the meal, which consists of hamburger steak, with or without gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, roll, macaroni salad, drink, and banana pudding or cake. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children. A big auction will also be held after the meal.
King said theme parks, sports teams and local businesses have been contacted for the auction. Among the items that will be up for auction include a four-day family pass to the N.C. Zoo, a load of gravel, and gift cards from restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. There will also be a quilt made by King as part of a raffle drawing. So far, 2,500 tickets have been sold at $1 each for the quilt raffle.