BUFFALO, N.Y. - Under normal circumstances, Debra Dwyer would have been enjoying a relaxing summer week at her home in rural Niagara County.
Instead, she has been stationed at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo for the past seven days, tending to her 20-year-old son, Cullen, who remains in the Intensive Care Unit after an ATV accident last Sunday in Sanborn.
"It's been a nightmare," Debra said outside the hospital as she waited for visiting hours. "He's having a real hard time right now."
Cullen suffered serious injuries in that crash last weekend, requiring the assistance of Mercy Flight to transport him from Niagara County to the hospital in Buffalo.
On Saturday, Debra said her son started a third round of dialysis to support his kidneys, which are a main priority for doctors at this point. Cullen also has some brain damage, and his lungs and heart are bruised from the crash.
But his mother has been right there with him this week at ECMC, sitting with her son during every visiting hour in the ICU and trauma rooms. Cullen's old friends and acquaintances have stopped by, and more than 3,000 dollars have already been raised online to help cover the medical costs.
"I have the most wonderful friends and family -- I don't know what I'd do without them," Debra said. "The (ECMC) team here is just fantastic, I've never met such wonderful people. They've taught me to take it one hour at a time, and that's what I'm doing."
Debra has also found her own support system inside the hospital.
"I have met the most wonderful families that are in the same situation as me," she said. "And we're all together, hugging every day and talking and sharing, and it's just wonderful."
Cullen was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, but his mother says there's a reason for that. He had given his helmet to a friend's girlfriend, who is pregnant.
Otherwise, Cullen always wears a helmet when he rides.
"Cullen takes care of everybody," Debra said. "He's a very caring, loving person."
The online fundraiser is proof of that.
The amount of money raised seems to increase by the hour.
"They touch my heart and humble me," Debra said.