The Calafat family suffers a “life-changing” accident.

The Calafat family suffers a “life-changing” accident.

Joe Calafat and his older brother Jim grew up in Great Falls as part of a competitive family. They starred on the field for head coach Jack Johnson at CMR High School. There was a lot of rivalry and rivalry but there was an equal amount of love.

But in college they faced a crossroads. Jim was a record-breaking linebacker at Montana State who still holds the single-season mark for tackles in a single season. Joe was the starting nose tackle at the University of Montana from 1987-89.

“We’re a divided family when Cat Greys come in,” Jim said. “We have the cats on one side and you have the Grizzes on the other. There is this rivalry, but at the end of the day we all love each other.

After college, they took different paths as well. Jim had a stint in the NFL before playing “Laser” on American Gladiators while Joe began a very successful career in the business world, managing shipping, trucking and logistics companies.

But the love never faded and the Calafat family asks both sides of Kat and Grizz’s rivalry to come together after Joe suffers a scary accident in mid-October.

While cleaning his house’s gutters on the stairs, Joe slipped off his roof and fell to the ground below. He suffered a severe concussion, several broken ribs, a fractured spine, and a nearly severed tongue.

“He was unconscious when his neighbors found him and took him to the hospital,” Jim said. “The injuries were horrific. He has a long recovery ahead of him, and they are concerned about his cognitive performance.”

The injury is compounded by the fact that Joe was between jobs at the time and was without health insurance. The medical bills started piling up. Although Joe never asked for help, his family worried that the financial burdens of recovery would get in the way of the important work of recovery.

Jim and the Calafat family set up a GoFundMe account, and the response has been overwhelming. In just over a week, the account raised more than $46,000 toward a goal of $125,000.

“There are people from all over the world donating and it impacts our family every day,” Jim said. “We’re on conference calls with each other and it’s refreshing to see the human side. Sometimes we lose sight of that a little bit in life. But every once in a while you see people step up to the plate and pour in the well-wishes. It’s touching. It reminds you that people are still good.”

Click here if you would like to donate.


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