Simplified: Ty Vuong, a 34-year-old Sioux Falls man, was in critical condition after an Oct. 15 motorcycle accident. Within just over a week, his friends, family and the broader Sioux Falls community have raised more than $16,000 to support Vuong's medical bills as he remains in the intensive care unit on a long road to recovery.
The details of the accident are still under investigation. Vuong's friend Nate Boscaljon, who has been coordinating with Vuong's family to help tell his story, said the crash happened on Sunday, Oct. 15 in Sioux Falls, and that's about all they know right now.
What is clear is that Vuong was wearing a helmet, something he consistently advocated for in his role as a motorcycle safety instructor.
"It's probably one of the only reasons he's still with us is because he was wearing a helmet and safety gear," Boscaljon said.
What's happened since?
Vuong was initially admitted to the emergency room in critical condition and needed emergency surgery to address injuries to his spine, and his lungs are very damaged. His brain had only minor injuries, thanks to his helmet.
Vuong's family said they're amazed to see the outpouring of support in the days since the accident.
- They know Vuong is involved in a lot of things in the community – from the Think 3D Leaders of Tomorrow program to teaching college courses to working as a motorcycle safety instructor – but in the wake of the accident, they're touched to see just how many lives he's played a role in.
"We believe it’s all of those Ty things that bring us together for him," Vuong's family said in a statement to Sioux Falls Simplified. "We feel the support, love, and prayers. We cannot thank you all enough. Ty has an extremely long road ahead still, but with all of the support he has, he’s going to get through this."
Tell me more about Vuong
Friends said it's hard to put into words what exactly makes him so magnetic, but a consistent refrain from the people close to Vuong is that he always makes people feel seen.
"Ty is one of those people that, when you're having a conversation with him, you're the only person in the room," friend Bethany Buitenbos said. "Everybody feels like they're his best friend – he makes people feel that special."
It's an energy that also comes through in Vuong's role as an adjunct instructor at the University of South Dakota– Sioux Falls, according to Shelby Hartman, his student and mentee.
"I don't think I would've stayed in school if I didn't have a teacher that cares as much as he does," Hartman said. "He's so inclusive and so inviting. He's all about connecting, and if he sees a need he can't fill, he'll connect you with someone who can."
Vuong also serves as the faculty advisor for the Lost & Found campus chapter at USD - Sioux Falls, and he's a member of the DisruptHR board of directors. Additionally, Vuong is co-host of the Collective Curiosity podcast and an active alumnus of the Leaders of Tomorrow program.
What happens next?
The recovery has already come a long way, Boscaljon said, but until Vuong's lungs are in a more stable position, he'll need to remain in intensive care.
His family will continue to provide updates via CaringBridge, where hundreds of people have already been following his story.
How can I help?
The family is seeking donations via GoFundMe, and Vuong's friends will be hosting a fundraiser on Nov. 9 at Orion Pub downtown with the Salas Salsas food truck.