When CSI Saddlepads' owner Donna Saddoris got the call that her go-to employee, Russell Bramell, was t-boned by a deer while driving his motorcycle on May 6, her heart wrenched for the hard-working father of two who'd just left her house that Saturday.
"He had worked for me all day," Saddoris said. "We're rebuilding our conference room for when vendors come by with tin and old barn wood, and I asked him to stay for dinner after he worked hard all day. But he wanted to get home and get cleaned up, and that's when the accident happened. If he'd only have stayed for dinner."
CSI Saddlepads, based in Urich, Mo., is the largest full-time employer with 11 employees in the town of just over 500. So with Bramell out, CSI Saddlepads tight-knit team is pulling together to raise money and pick up the slack.
"Russell does everything from mow my lawns to building the saddle pads," Saddoris said. "He builds all the pads. He glues together 80 pads a day. But nobody here wants to bring someone else on board. We're all just going to do what it takes to pick up his slack. He fully intends on coming back to work here, and we plan to keep his job open and do everything we can to help him get by. He'll be on crutches for at least six weeks, and I'm just thankful they didn't have to amputate his leg."
If Bramell isn't able to stand to fulfill his usually duties, Saddoris said, she'll teach him to sit down and sew saddle pads together.
"We're an extended family," Saddoris said. "My seamstresses are going to donate two hours a week to him, and the community is very involved as well."
Saddoris has lived in Urich since the 1980s, and knew Bramell before he came to work for her through her involvement with the volunteer fire department in town. Bramell was formerly employed as an EMT and involved in community activities.
Bramell's insurance will only cover a small portion of his nearly $250,000 in medical bills, so Saddoris has set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for his expenses.