The Maplewood community is rallying behind Special Olympics coach and advocate Jeff Pasket who was severely burned after his lawn mower's gas can exploded in October. A benefit has been planned for Saturday to help raise funds for his medical bills.
Pasket has been in surgery four times over the last three months, and spends at least 3 days a week at Regions Hospital for doctor's appointments. Now, the Maplewood Monarchs, a Special Olympics delegation, are helping the coach who's been there for so many others.
"It made a popping sound and for some reason I moved my grandson out of the way," Pasket said. "And once I did, the gas can exploded."
"It was just like out of a movie," his wife Sherry Pasket said. "His whole front was on fire."
The long-time Special Olympics coach was inside his Maplewood shed with his 2-year-old grandson Austin playing close by. Pasket was checking his lawn mower's gas can when the incident happened.
"The spark went inside and shot hot liquid gas on me," he said. "I came out of the shed engulfed in flames."
Before static electricity could spark the blaze, Pasket moved little Austin to safety – saving his life.
"If I did not move him when I did he would not be here today," he said. "I took the full brunt of the explosion."
Forty percent of Pasket's midsection along with parts of his fingers, arms, neck and chin were burned.
"I can't stretch my arm out because of the burns and I can't hold my wife and that's hard," he said.
Not to mention, major expenses are just now starting to roll in. The first medical bill the couple received was for $200,000.
"I was told at the burn unit don't be surprised if everything comes close to a million dollars," Pasket said.
The coach who's helped so many now finds himself in need of a hand. So friends organized a benefit at Sherwood lounge in St. Paul to hopefully ease Jeff's load.
Even with multiple surgeries behind him, Pasket's healing process has really just begun.
"There's days where I cry, there's days you got to smile because it will take you down hard," he said.
Pasket's benefit is Saturday, Feb. 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Sherwood Lounge in St. Paul. A $15 donation will be taken at the door. There will be food, drinks, raffles and a large silent auction.
Visit Jeff Pasket's GoFundMe site here: www.gofundme.com/jeffpasket