RICHFIELD - To watch 6-year-old Joshua Hysick run and play, one might not assume he faced tragedy less than a month ago.
The blue/green gauze wrapped around his right hand is the only indication the energetic child suffered serious injuries.
It was the early evening of April 12. Christina Hysick just brought her children home from seeing their grandmother in Liverpool and had been to the store for groceries.
Sentinel photo by TABITHA?GOODLING
Christina Hysick of Richfield poses with her son, Joshua, 6, who was injured in a bicycle accident in early April. A fund has been set up in his name at Juniata Valley Bank.
"Not even five minutes after we got home Josh was saying his dirt bike was not working," Christina said. The electric-charged bike was in front of the house and Josh was determined to fix it.
Christina turned around to take grocery bags into the house and she heard a blood-curdling scream.
"Part of his finger was just hanging there," she recalled. Three other fingers were severed at the knuckle - remaining inside the chain of the dirt bike.
Josh later told his mom he had placed his hand on the back tire of the bike while he had his other hand near the chain. The bike fell, and his hand got caught in the chain as the motor began to run.
Christina felt her heart pound and quickly grabbed the 6-year-old and led him into the house. All she could think to do was to get the hand under cold water at the kitchen sink. And for a second she had another thought.
"We're not overly religious people or anything. But it came to my mind that we should pray," Christina said.
She held onto the small child and asked God to help them through this process.
Christina said she then realized she needed to get the fingers out of the bike.
Walking out on to the front steps reality hit her.
"This was not just someone's fingers in there," she said. "They were my child's fingers. It just hit me all at once."
She said she told Josh to stay at the sink and she closed the door and screamed for help, hoping a neighbor would hear her.
Soon her next-door neighbors came running. They managed to pull the fingers from the chain. Christina had then placed in a plastic bag and then put on ice. She called 9-1-1.
Joshua was taken to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey and spent 13 hours in surgery starting around 9 a.m. April 12 and ending at 10 a.m. the next day.
By this point Joshua's dad, Kevin Hysick, had joined his family at the hospital after going to Danville and then being told his son was transferred to Hershey.
Christina said the medical staff put leeches on her son's fingers to suck the blood and help him recover from the surgery.
Josh had leeches falling into his bed, but he remained upbeat despite his pain.
The child spent six days in the hospital. It was discovered his ring finger and middle finger did not survive the surgery. They needed amputated. The chain had broken off three fingers including the little finger and part of the index finger.
Since the accident and the hospital stay, Josh makes weekly visits to Hershey to check the index finger to see if it, too, will need amputated. Christina and Kevin are both on Family Medical Leave or from their places of employment.
The day the family arrived home from the hospital, they received their first medical bill of more than $5,000 not covered by their insurance. Since then, the bills have continued to mount as thousands in dollars of more bills poured in.
"I really hate to see what the end cost would be," Christina said.
Many people have suggested the family apply for government assistance and grants. She said they have discovered they do not qualify because of their current income.
Still, the pressures are mounting.
"I will live in a cardboard box if I have to," Christina said, "I will do without whatever I need to in order to get through this. The last thing I want is these medical bills to destroy his life."
A friend of the family helped the Hysicks set up a fund with the Juniata Valley Bank. All funds will go directly to the Hershey Medical Center. Any funds left over after paying the Hysicks' bills will be used to help any other child with a similar need.
Donations can be made at any branch of JVB.
A blood drive is also being held noon to 6 p.m. on May 13, at the Richfield Community Building. It is sponsored by the Richfield Lions Club.
Christina said her family is more than grateful for what the community has done and is doing for them. The Richfield Women's Club's annual Easter egg hunt allowed the Easter bunny to ride to his home in a fire truck and bring him a treat.
Despite it all, however, Josh is still a happy 6-year-old.
"He has adapted to his left hand really well," his mom said. "He just acts like nothing ever happened."