Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bull Riders Take Time to Help Injured Friend

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bull Riders Take Time to Help Injured Friend

Article excerpt

Byline: Linda McDonald, Times-Union correspondent

The national anthem turned Jennifer Krolikowski's smile to tears last week at 8 Seconds nightclub on Beach Boulevard. She leaned toward a friend and said, "I just wish he could be here with me."

'He' is Raymond Krolikowski of Hilliard, Jennifer Krolikowski's husband and the father of their two daughters. Less than a month ago, he broke his neck while riding a live bull in 8 Seconds' arena. About 250 friends and family members attended a benefit bull ride Oct. 1 sponsored by the nightclub. All net proceeds were donated to Raymond Krolikowski.

An avid bull rider since his teens, Krolikowski competed regularly at 8 Second's weekly competition. The goal in bull riding is to stay on the animal for eight seconds. Riders are judged on their time and how well they ride. Krolikowski was rider number two Sept. 13, and doing well.

But in a millisecond the bull shifted and tossed Krolikowski off like he was a pesky fly. He landed on his head and fractured two cervical vertebrae. He was airlifted from the nightclub parking lot to Shands Jacksonville. The next day, surgeons repaired the shattered C4 vertebra. C3 had a hairline fracture, but his spinal cord was not severed.

Krolikowski was transferred Sept. 26 to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tampa, known for its spinal cord injury center.

Krolikowski, a volunteer firefighter in Nassau County where he and his wife live, is on active duty in the Navy, although the injury will change that. He is eligible for VA medical disability, but the application process takes two to three months. In the meantime, medical bills are mounting, house payments are due and Jennifer Krolikowski and the girls have daily living expenses.

Friends organized the benefit bull ride.

"It's the right thing to do," said Megan Tanner, general manager at 8 Seconds nightclub. …

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