THE POGAR FAMILY is entering the holiday season supported by the prayers of many as it copes with the changes in its members' lives brought on by an accident three weeks ago.
The prayers -- and a blood drive planned for Friday -- are for Steven Pogar, the Glen Burnie High School student who was struck by a car Nov. 1. That he is no longer on the critical list is reason for thanks this week, but a long road to recovery lies ahead for the 17-year-old.
His mother, Janet Pogar, was the subject of this column last month for her dedication to helping area children. In addition to her full-time job as a nurse at Harbor Hospital Center, the mother of six is PTA President at Richard Henry Lee Elementary, Corkran Middle and Glen Burnie High schools.
And now the woman who has worked tirelessly to help students has found her gaze narrowed to one in particular -- her son.
On the night I spoke with Janet Pogar, it was her son's birthday and she was excited about his progress. Although he remains in a coma, he has begun to track with his eyes. He stared in the direction of the bright helium balloons she had brought to his room.
When country music (Steven's favorite) was played, his blood pressure fell. And when hospital staff members inserted a new IV, he responded to pain.
Janet described his condition as "serious, but stable." He has undergone five operations, including one to repair damage to his liver and another to insert pins in his shoulder and elbow. He has tracheal and feeding tubes inserted and needs supplemental oxygen.
The ordeal has been emotionally draining for Janet Pogar, her husband, Harold, and their children.
"It's amazing that one twist of fate can change your life so drastically," she said.
She has vowed to make the intersection of Ritchie Highway and Fifth Avenue, where Steven was hit, a safer place for children.
Although the family is unsure what lies in Steven's future, they have been inspired by an outpouring of support from the community.
"Steven's progress has been so amazing. And while I stand in awe of the Shock Trauma team and their skill, there was such an aura that surrounded my son. That's the power of prayer," Janet said.
Several churches have "adopted" Steven, praying for him and sending cards of support.
Others in the community have planned the blood drive to benefit Steven and others. It will take place from noon to 6 p.m. Friday at the Glen Burnie Improvement Association building, 19 Crain Highway.
All blood types are needed, but because Steven's, A negative, is so rare, people with that blood type are especially encouraged to attend. The plasma and whole blood received by her son had totaled 71 units, Pogar said.
It is a measure of the vast need of blood needed to save people like Steven after accidents that, sadly, occur just about every day.
If you are interested in donating blood, schedule an appointment by calling 410-760-2093.
Jingle for arthritis
Sleigh bells will ring a little early this year as the 10th annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk is held at Marley Station Mall beginning at 8 a.m. Dec. 3.
The event, co-sponsored by the mall, the Baltimore-Washington Hip and Knee Center at North Arundel Hospital and Maryland chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, raises money for arthritis research and education.
An estimated 43 million people suffer in some way from the disease, almost 900,000 of them in Maryland.
Depending on fitness levels, participants in the fund-raiser have several choices. Outdoor types can compete against others in their age division in an 8-kilometer timed run along the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail park.
There will be an indoor mall walk and, for children, the "Rudoph Romp," dashes of 50 and 100 yards on the parking lot. The event also will include breakfast, a visit from Santa and music by disc jockey Big Dog.
Each walker or runner is asked to raise pledges. The first 700 who submit their registration forms and $25 entrance fees will receive Jingle Bell Run 2000 T-shirts. All participants will receive goody bags and jingle bells for their shoes. Incentive prizes will be offered to those who raise $50 or more in pledges.
Registration is available in advance with a form from the Arthritis Foundation, at 410-544-5433; at its office, 714 B&A Blvd. in Severna Park, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 1; and at North Arundel Hospital's third-floor main conference room from 1 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2. Registration also is available the morning of the event.
Teams of four or more people are encouraged to participate. Team captain packets, which provide details on starting and chairing a team, are available by calling the Arthritis Foundation.
Prizes will be awarded for the top fund-raising team, highest team average, most spirited and largest team.
Jackie Dominick, a nurse practitioner in the Hip and Knee Center, chairs the event this year. "I hope that we can meet or exceed last year's goal and raise as much money as we can to help battle the disease," she said.
Last year's local Walk/Run raised about $40,000.