Jimmy Martin, executive director for the Corky Cares Foundation, gave us a ring this afternoon to fill us in on what he knows about Corky and Rick Blankeship’s statuses after a housefire destroyed their home.
“I’ve been the only non-family-member [to be let] in because I’m super-close to the family from my work with the foundation,” he says.
He says that Corky has passed a brain-damage test, in which a patient who has been unconscious or sedated is asked to perform simple functions once they’re awake. Corky was able to move his feet on command, as well as nod when asked — both are great signals for recovery.
Unfortunately, doctors have been unable to revive his brother who, though showing signs of brain activity, has yet to respond to any cues. “His brother has shown no improvement,” says Jimmy. That could be due to the allegations that it took between eight to fifteen more minutes for Rick to be found by firefighters, then an additional fifteen minutes of CPR. Both were in need of resuscitation, but according to Jimmy, Corky was revived on the scene and rushed out via an ambulance. “Rick is in way worse condition,” Jimmy tells us. “He isn’t responding to anything but electrical stimuli.”
“Doctors were keeping them sedated so they wouldn’t come to and pull their tubes out, [but] they took Corky’s out two days ago in the afternoon,” he continues. “He was restless, having those tubes in his throat.” He says there may be severe damage to Corky’s lungs, so doctors removed some of the blood and mucous that gathered in his chest.
He also says Corky’s suffered “minor burns on his arms and face and that’s all [the family has] told me so far,” before adding that Rick’s burns “are a little worse.”
“Yesterday, they turned the oxygen source off, and Corky breathed on his own for a little over three hours,” he says. “Then it was starting to get a little labored. He had a scratchy throat … so they put him back on the ventilator.”
If Corky’s condition continues to improve, Jimmy says doctors will have his tubes removed again within the next two days, and will attempt to get him breathing with the aid of a nasal cannula.
“They’re trying to get him to write a little bit, but he’s so wiped out,” he says. “You can imagine what painkillers do to a tiny little thing like him.”
Another friend of the family, Michael Jimenez, says, “We’re keeping them in our prayers.” He says there’s so much speculation as to what caused the fire, that he wouldn’t personally hazard a guess. “People tend to think they know,” he says. “In reality, they don’t. But there’s an investigation [as to why] part of house is burnt and the other part isn’t, so the fire department has to finish that and release a statement.”
According to Jimmy, the brothers’ insurance company has deemed the house an entire loss. He credits the age of the house (“It once belonged to their parents”) and Rick’s tendency to hoard items as the reason the damage was so severe. The brothers shared the home and, says Jimmy, Corky’s side was “immaculate” while Rick’s was packed. “It was a tinderbox,” he says. “In the middle was the shared space with a living room, a kitchen, and Corky’s fish-tank.” It’s because of those fish that Corky doesn’t go on long vacations, according to Jimmy. “He talks and sings to the fish every morning. As weird as it sounds, that’s one of the first things I thought about.”
In the meantime, Jimmy says the staff of many LGBTQ staples such as Tracks, M-Uptown, the new Hambuger Mary’s, Broadways, and others are coming together to arrange a fundraising variety show for the family. Slated for Saturday, September 22, the show is set to take place at the EXDO Event Center.
“It’s literally like the entire community is coming together for this,” he says. “All you can do is hope.”
Update: Sadly, Rick Blankenship succumbed to his injuries on September 5th. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Corky with expenses. The Denver Fire Department would like to remind readers to check the batteries in your smoke detectors, have an escape plan and keep items at least three feet away from anything that gets hot.