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Benefit to aid injured Northrop student

Jason Barbknecht, the father of a Northrop High School student paralyzed after a skiing accident on Christmas Eve, is working on his thank-you speech to be read during an upcoming benefit for his son Noah.

But Barbknecht said he’s not sure how his family will begin to repay all the people in the community and even strangers who have stepped up to offer assistance, prayers and donations during his family’s time of need.

“Fort Wayne really is a community, not just a city,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from this. Our community is like one large family.”

Northrop’s Football Booster Club is hosting A Bruin Benefit for Noah on Feb. 9 to raise money for Noah and his family. Tickets are going fast for the event, which will be held at 7 p.m. at Ceruti’s Summit Park, said Stephanie McCullough, who’s coordinating the event. Tickets can be purchased until Monday.

Barbknecht’s son Noah was injured Christmas Eve while skiing in Vermont. Doctors described Noah’s injuries – including broken vertebrae, a collapsed lung, broken ribs and a skull fracture – as similar to someone stepping in front of a truck on the freeway. Noah is now paralyzed from the breastbone down.

But Barbknecht said his son could have been much worse off with traumatic brain injuries or paraplegia. Noah is currently being cared for at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The family faces rising medical and travel costs and a loss of income because of time away from work. Their home is currently listed on, and the family is looking for a new home where modifications can be made to accommodate Noah when he comes home.

The benefit will include a live DJ, appearance by a WOWO radio personality, heavy hors d’oeuvres, nonalcoholic beverages and an online silent auction. The community has raised more than $40,000 in inventory for the silent auction. The auction is also online, so those not attending the event can still bid on items such as gift certificates, tickets and autographed cleats from Dwight Freeney of the Indianapolis Colts. All proceeds will be given to the family to use at their discretion, McCullough said.

Despite the challenges he faces, Noah’s resolve is stronger than ever, Barbknecht said. He said through votes from family and friends, Noah won an electric wheelchair from the Christopher Reeve Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Foundation. Noah, who is a member of the school’s football team and an avid hunter and outdoorsman, plans to continue to participate in football conditioning and attend games and practices. He also plans to remain on the track team, throwing shot put.

Barbknecht said the outpouring of support has been unbelievable.

“It’s really humbling to know that many people care,” he said.

If you go

What: Bruin Benefit for Noah
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 9
Where: Ceruti’s Summit Park, 6601 Innovation Blvd.
Tickets: Must be purchased in advance and cost $30. Tickets can be purchased and silent auction items can be bid on at
More: Updates from Noah’s family are available on Noah’s Facebook page at

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