John Hessler

One Team, One Hope, Team Hessler



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"A Buffalo Miracle"




Photo Courtesy of The Baltimore Ravens  Copyright 2006


"John Hessler is going to go down in Colorado football history as the Comeback Kid,'' Buffaloes head coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Once again, he rose to the occasion.''


Quote after the Colorado Texas game when the Buffs won 28 - 24.

Date of article: 10-27-1996




This website has been created for John Hessler. Its purpose is to keep everyone updated on his recovery after the hit-and-run accident on Sunday, October 19, 2003.


Below you will find official updates on his condition.


Please continue to sign the online guestbook. John and his family check it often. Your thoughts and prayers are very important to us.




Hessler gaining bit by bit
BRIGHTON - John Hessler is sitting in a cozy recliner in his living room, sipping on a Diet Dr Pepper.

But in his mind, he is hundreds of miles away, in Norman, Okla. It is Sept. 30, 1995, again, and he is in an infallible groove, throwing five touchdown passes in his first start for the University of Colorado, leading the Buffaloes to a 38-17 rout of No. 10 Oklahoma before 75,000 startled fans, then celebrating with teammates in a heap in the end zone.

It's all there on an aging ESPN videotape - past glories rushing in front of him like an old dream.

"I'll never forget that day. Everything seemed to go right for me," he said.

Nothing comes effortlessly anymore to Hessler. Twelve years later, he shuffles through long and repetitious days on a metal walker, struggling to find the self he lost in a hit-and-run accident that left him in a monthlong coma almost four years ago.

During a wrenching recovery that felt like one long, bad night, Hessler, 33, had to learn to stand, walk and maneuver his way through everyday life again. His cognitive skills gradually have returned, and today he lives with his younger brother, Jason, in a Brighton condominium filled with photos and mementos from his CU career.

He prepares his own meals, charms friends with his wisecracking wit and can tick off plays and arcane statistics from long-ago games.

But his short-term memory remains fuzzy. He writes notes to remind himself of routine tasks and friends know that what they discussed with Hessler the night before might be erased from his memory by morning - such as the Drew Barrymore character in 50 First Dates, one of his favorite movies.

"That's exactly my life," said Hessler, who eagerly awaits the CU-Oklahoma game Saturday. "If I have to meet someone, I have to write it down. If I have to tell someone something, I have to write it down."

Hessler, once a professional baseball and football prospect, is petrified of standing and walking without help - "I go into a big panic," he said - and shies from simple backyard games such as playing catch with his 9-year-old son, Devin.

"I could throw the ball 60 yards once," he said. "It's just not the same."

But his biggest burden is the depression and anxiety that are symptoms of severe brain injury. As his thinking gradually came back into focus, so did a maddening sense of unfairness - and of a missed fate.

"There is definitely a before and after in my life," he said. "I'm still looking for the after. That's what kills me. The weirdest thing is that there is nothing wrong with me personally. I can sit down with anyone and have a good conversation. But the depression is the hard part."

Added his mother, June Hessler: "He thinks he will never work again. I keep saying, 'You're going to be a taxpayer again, you're going to be a taxpayer again.' He has no choice. He has to start thinking that way or he's going to stay in the same rut. I just know it's going to evolve. I just know it. We're not giving up on him. It's just the negativism in him. He is angry; he is angry at what he lost."

Battled long odds

What lingers in the memory is how ordinary that autumn night seemed.

Hessler, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Vikan Middle School in Brighton and an assistant football coach for Regis High School at the time, was driving on Interstate 76 on Oct. 19, 2003, when a Chevrolet Blazer clipped his Honda Accord, sending it across a median and into the path of a pickup truck.

The driver and passenger of the Blazer fled and never were found. Hessler was slumped over and not breathing when a passer-by crawled through the wreckage and lifted Hessler's head to restore his air passage.

"He says he's angry with (the men who hit him)," June Hessler said. "I say, 'What are you going to do if you ever run into them on the street? You're not going to do anything. You can't live in the past.' "

The elements that dominated Hessler's life before the accident - football, family, his CU friends - consumed it afterward.

Emerging from a 33-day coma, Hessler called out football plays. Informed after fully regaining consciousness it was a Friday, he said, "I've got a football game tonight. I don't think I'm going to make it."

Before the accident, Hessler carried his Regis playbook with him everywhere; during his recovery, his family read it to him.

"He would have been a really good coach. I know he would have been," his mother said.

Added Hessler: "I think the kids enjoyed having me around. I hope I was nice. I think I was."

His family did everything it could to aid his recovery. The Hesslers were there when his weight plummeted to 143 pounds and the odds against his survival soared; when surgeons implanted a titanium plate in his skull; and when he entered a Boulder rehabilitation center to learn how to get himself ready for a day.

They fined him $5 every time he said "I can't" and made him write "I am going to get well" every morning. And they helped him through dark funks such as the one he drifted into on a recent summer night, when he and his mother talked in his living room, the air thick with ifs and what-ifs.

June: "Why don't you try? Are you afraid to fail? Everyone fails."

John: "I have failed."

June: "We've had this conversation many times."

John: "People have no idea how hard it is to let go of what I used to have."

June: "But how do you know you can't do something again?"

John: "Like what?"

Support from CU

"They've been through the ringer," said former Colorado coach Bill McCartney, who recruited Hessler in 1993, when he was an all-state quarterback and pitcher at Brighton High School. "I mean, really, every emotion known to man, they've been through. He's fought depression; he's fought really desperate feelings. When he has his down days, when he's struggling, it just tears his mother's heart out. But she's not going anywhere."

Hessler's former CU teammates and coaches also closed ranks. McCartney led a prayer session in the hospital and later counseled Hessler during difficult times.

Arriving from Seattle a week later was former CU coach Rick Neuheisel, the University of Washington's coach at the time and now a Baltimore Ravens assistant. He invited Hessler to join him for a preseason game each of the past two summers.

Broncos tackle Matt Lepsis, who spent the night at the hospital after the accident, keeps in regular contact with Hessler. Sports information director Dave Plati meets him for lunch a couple of times a month. And CU alumnus Gary Gisle introduced him to hippotherapy, a type of therapeutic horseback riding Hessler enthusiastically embraced.

"His CU friends have stuck with him," June Hessler said.

For more than two years, Hessler steadily appeared to be regaining his footing. In 2004, he made a special appearance at CU's homecoming game; in 2006, he served as an assistant baseball coach at Brighton and was training for a volunteer job at a correctional facility.

But his recovery started to stall. In September 2006, he moved into a rehabilitation center for a few months, then back in with his brother. Unable to work or drive, spending much of his time watching television, his frustration turned into misery.

"I don't even dream anymore," he said. "I mean, I haven't had a dream in years. At least I don't remember having any dreams."

'Definitely a people person'

After the accident, Jason moved from Fort Collins to Brighton to help John. The arrangement occasionally leads to moments of mutual exasperation as Jason discovered while overhearing John advise a Little League pitcher who'd had a bad outing.

"He was telling him, 'You need to ask the coach if you can pitch the next game. Get that taste out of your mouth,' " he said. "I'm hearing John say that and I think, 'John, you've got to do the same thing.' We can get him all the help in the world. But if he doesn't want to do it. . . . Who's to say if he's going to get better? We have no idea.

"There are a lot of unknowns. The hardest part is worrying: 'Will he get the willpower?' It's so difficult. But the one thing about John . . . is that people enjoy being around him. We go to get him a haircut and he's got everyone in there cracking up. He's definitely a people person."

Worn down from years of trauma and fear, the family reached out to the CU community. McCartney met with Hessler. McCartney's wife, Lyndi, counseled Hessler's mother.

"She's been my guardian angel through all of this," June Hessler said.

Neuheisel also encouraged Hessler, falling back into his role from a decade earlier. On the surface, it appeared Neuheisel and Hessler were at odds during his playing days, an image driven home in the 1997 Michigan game, when Neuheisel screamed at his senior quarterback on national TV.

"Behind closed doors, he'd turn my butt purple, man," Hessler said. "When he yelled at me, it wasn't a yell, it was a scream. But it fired me up, trust me. He's a great guy."

Neuheisel looked out for Hessler. In 1994, when the quarterback overslept and missed the walk-through on the morning of the Oklahoma game, Neuheisel didn't tell McCartney.

Beneath it all, though, Neuheisel wondered if Hessler possessed the gravity and focus to run the team, nicknaming him "Alfred E. Neuman" - a reference to the MAD Magazine cover boy.

But Hessler was all business when Koy Detmer went down with a knee injury during the first quarter against Texas A&M in 1995. He helped lead the Buffaloes to a 29-21 win and won the honor of Big Eight Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

A week later, he destroyed Oklahoma with his school-record passing performance, endearing himself to CU fans with his swagger and powerful arm.

Though Hessler's senior season two years later ended in disappointment, when the Buffaloes finished 5-6, he and Neuheisel kept in touch, talking as much as six times a months during summer 2006.

"I was trying to chew him out and at the same time tell him he's got a lot to live for and all that stuff," Neuheisel said. "And we were talking about football and it was obvious that he still had this huge passion for football. So I said, 'Why don't you come out and watch us play and I'll get you set up in the box. We're playing Koy Detmer's team in preseason and we'll surprise him.' He lit up like a Christmas tree."

For two days, Hessler joined the Ravens in team meetings, film sessions, meals.

"It was a sweet time," Hessler said.

But the best part was joining Neuheisel in the coaches' box.

"I'm giving our play-caller information. And John's sitting right behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, telling me what the free safety is doing," Neuheisel said. "So I said, 'You didn't know what the free safety did when you played, so why would you know now?' "

The conversation took a less jocular turn back at the Ravens team hotel.

"We ended up spending the night," Neuheisel said. "I told him, 'It's easy to say, "Poor me." But you can't stay inside the box. You have to look outside, at how fortunate you are. You're still alive. You were John Doe for six hours. You were in a coma for 30 some days. You have a son you're really proud of. I mean, you have things a lot of people would pay a lot of money for.' "

As the conversation wound down, Neuheisel made a promise to Hessler.

"I told him that if I got in position to hire him in some capacity, I'd be darn glad to do so. We're looking to having that chance someday," he said.

Nine months ago, Gisle persuaded Hessler to try hippotherapy, which uses the natural movements of a horse as a tool for physical and emotional therapy.

Although Hessler never had been on a horse, he quickly overcame his fears while at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Longmont, guiding a big Thoroughbred through an obstacle-filled ring. Surrounded by friends, his face lifted to the sun, everything else seemed like background debris.

"I don't think John Hessler has ever had an enemy," Neuheisel said. "He was quick to laugh. He was quick to take the blame. He had a lot of humility. Everybody loved having him around. So in a time of need, it was easy to see that a lot of people would rally around him. I love that kid. He's a wonderful person. He's going to be a very, very productive citizen. He just needs to stay positive, and stay focused on all the good things that are still to come."

Season in the sun

Although John Hessler had thrown only 15 passes in mop-up duty during the first three games in 1995, he was forced to carry Colorado on his untested shoulders after Koy Detmer was injured. What he did is part of school legend.

Replaces Detmer during the first quarter against No. 3 Texas A&M and runs for two touchdowns and throws for 177 yards and one touchdown in a 29-21 home win.

Helps beat No. 10 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., the next weekend with a school-record five touchdown passes in a 38-17 win.

Ties his record with five touchdown passes during a 45-32 win at Oklahoma State.

Throws for two touchdowns in a Cotton Bowl win against Oregon.

Finishes ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 Conference in total offense (204.2 yards a game), 14th in NCAA Division I-A in quarterback rating and sets a school record with 20 touchdown passes.,2777,DRMN_23932_5708504,00.html




Kicking some asterisk

Posted September 26, 2007

Ran into former Buff quarterback John Hessler this week at the Dal Ward Center.

Hess continues to make an amazing recovery from his near-fatal car crash in 2003, when a hit-and-run driver caused an accident that left him in a coma for weeks. Every time I see Hess, he’s made strides. His progress is nothing short of remarkable.

And, the timing of bumping into him this week was perfect, given that the Buffs play Oklahoma on Saturday.

Avid Buff fans will remember that Hessler made his first start against the Sooners in 1995, replacing an injured Koy Detmer.

Before the game, then-OU coach Howard Schnellenberger grumbled that he wished Detmer were playing, saying he didn’t want any asterisk attached to the game just because the Buffs didn’t have their starting QB.

Hessler responded by throwing for 348 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-17 come-from-behind win.

Of course, newspapers in these parts the next day were more than happy to note that Hessler and the Buffs kicked Schnellenberger’s asterisk all over Norman.

“I still remember that,” Hessler said earlier this week, chortling at the thought. “I still have all those clippings in a scrapbook.”

It’s fun to remember games such as that.

But it’s inspiring to run into John Hessler, and watch as he continues to battle back from seemingly unbeatable odds.

The guy is tough.

Here’s to Hess.





From: John Hessler


May 25, 2007


Hi everybody.

It's john. Just wanted to say hi and tell you alittle about my horseback riding. I beleive I said that right. "horseback riding" My Horses name is "sweet lou." I owe Gary Gisle a big fat "thank you." Gary you are the man. They have me stretching, grabbing things, staring at things while the horse is in motion. I really enjoy doing that and the people are off the chart that I deal with. Gary and I usually make a quick stop by costco that day. I've completed my first session and I will be starting my summer session soon. The difference will be riding outside. I had been riding indoors. By the way I am looking forward to watching the Buffs play this season. They are going to be better people and have a great home schedule this year We beleive in what you are doing Coach Hawkins. "Git er done"




A Monster Plati-Tudes:


Dave Plati -

2007 BLEED BLACK AND GOLD GOLF... The Bleed Black and Gold Celebrity Golf Tournament on July 2 (8:00 a.m.) is the ultimate event for the CU football enthusiast! Sign up now for a day at Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Course where CU greats such as Coach Bill McCartney, Alfred Williams, Daniel Graham, Joel Klatt, Matt Russell, Darian Hagan, Jon Embree, Chauncey Billups, Dave Logan, Mike Pritchard, Charles Johnson and many more come together with fans for fun and enjoyment. All foursomes will have an opportunity to play with a former CU athlete for the day and will have an opportunity to win incredible prizes and gifts! Proceeds benefit the BBG Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to help raise money for fallen and/or injured Buffs, amateur athletics and to help drive support for CU Football!  This year’s proceeds will benefit former Buff QB, John Hessler, and every player receives a ticket to the Cool River Café Pairings Party, an exciting celebrity filled night on Saturday, June 30.  The party kicks off the weekend event, and allows fans to mingle amongst CU Football legends and enjoy the “Mother of All” sports auctions led by Charles Johnson.  Cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres will be provided.

If you are interested in one of the several sponsorship packages for this worthy event or would like to play, please contact Joe McCreary at 719/593-7770 or (you can also to register to play at this e-mail address).  


HESSLER HORSIN’ AROUND... The latest therapy on former CU quarterback John Hessler’s road to recovery has been... horseback riding.  Really... the program at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Longmont has been praised for its work with people with disabilities or those needing extensive physical rehabilitation.  John has participated in the program since early spring and thoroughly enjoys it.  John’s regular horse is named “Sweet Lou.”  The therapeutic teams consist of a horse, an instructor and volunteers.  The center does take donations, which can be made in John’s name; if interested in contributing, send to the CTRC, 11968 Mineral Road, Longmont, CO 80504; the phone number is 303-652-9131 and the website is


October 25, 2006


Update from Jolene Davis:



Hello everyone!

John has been living in a rehabilitation center up in northern Colorado since the first part of September. The move had an uncertain start but he has since settled very nicely. John’s thought process improves daily which is great, but there for awhile the realization of everything he has endured hit him like a ton of bricks. Negative thoughts and remarks became a frequent visitor in John’s everyday life. A change was needed and we pray and ask each of you to continue to pray that this will bring John back to a lasting optimistic state of mind. The past three years has been more about others helping John through the tough times; it is now time for him to start recognizing his strength and ability to touch people with awe-inspiring attitude. We believe in John, he needs to believe in himself.

We also wanted to send a very special thank you to Rick & Janelle for the welcoming invitation extended to John. John flew to California to spend some much needed time with Devin. The amazing time spent there demonstrates that love does conquer all. Devin, your dad returned from that visit ready to achieve…thanks Coach Devin!

Thanks to everyone for keeping John in your thoughts and prayers. God Bless…




August 29, 2006


We received a collection of pictures from The Baltimore Ravens yesterday. A very special thank you to the Ravens for these pictures and for all they have done for John.


Click here to see a slide show of John's visit to Baltimore.




August 21, 2006


Today is John's 32nd Birthday. He sounds great and had an awesome (just awesome) time in Baltimore with his old friends.

Just in time for his birthday, CBS News 4 put together a wonderful web page featuring a great story about John's recent trip to Baltimore written by Dave Plati, along with several other links to past stories they have done on John. Thank you Jesse from KCNC for putting that together for us.


Click here to see it.





By David Plati, University of Colorado Associate AD/Sports Information (reprinted with permission) 


BALTIMORE — Former University of Colorado quarterback John Hessler, just under three years removed from an automobile accident that nearly took his life, was reunited here Thursday night with a couple of old teammates and his former quarterback mentor and head coach.


Baltimore?  CU reunion?  Huh? 


A National Football League preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles served as the backdrop for a night that Hessler will never forget.  The hometown Ravens won, 20-10, rallying from an early 10-point deficit, only one of the many memories created for Hessler on the night.


Hessler, who will turn 32 this Monday, flew Thursday from Denver to Baltimore, the first time since the accident he boarded a plane by himself.  Making strides in his recovery daily, it was a big step for him.  Another former teammate, Blake Anderson, the conduit between Kordell Stewart and Michael Westbrook on “The Catch” play at Michigan in 1994, drove Hessler to the airport.


Waiting on the other end to receive Hessler was the man who drew up that play, Rick Neuheisel, CU’s head coach between 1995-98 and Hessler’s quarterback coach in 1994 in the last year of Bill McCartney’s 13-year run as Colorado’s head man. 


Neuheisel conceived the entire trip two weeks ago while trying to find a way to help in Hessler’s recovery, as John admitted to him on one of their many phone calls that there are days “that are a struggle and I’m just not very motivated to do anything.” 


At one point early this week, Hessler called Neuheisel and said he wasn’t going to come, that he didn’t want to be a burden.  Neuheisel wouldn’t hear of it, cracked a private joke between the two and the trip was back on.


The pair have always been close, despite stories to the contrary from a television clip in a CU loss at Michigan in 1997; in that shot, it appeared Neuheisel was scolding Hessler on the sideline after an interception, pointing a finger in his chest.  What actually transpired was that the coach was telling the player that he was "not Superman.  You don't have an 'S' on your chest, so don't try to do everything by yourself."  They often laugh about how everyone got that wrong.


The reunions came on the sidelines in the pregame warm-ups, with one planned as a surprise.  Jeremy Bloom, a rookie receiver with the Eagles, sprinted over to greet Hessler when he first spotted him.  Next out was Raven tackle Justin Bannan, who lockered next to Hessler as a freshman in 1997.  Other former Buffs Michael Lewis and Donald Strickland said hello, as both play in the secondary for the Eagles, as well as Ravens rookie tight end Quinn Sypniewski, who had an outstanding senior season in Boulder last fall. 


“This was awesome,” Hessler said.  “Flat-out awesome.  I only cried once, and I can’t even remember why.


“I don’t know what to say, and people who know me know I always know what to say,” he joked.  “Every time I turned around there was a Buff here and then a Buff there.  It was almost like being in Boulder.”


The Ravens staff photographer snapped pictures.  Former CU graduate assistant sports information director Patrick Gleason helped arrange a couple of impromptu interviews and coordinated photos back to Colorado.  But the main event was about to come.


Eagle backup quarterback Koy Detmer spent four years along side of Hessler at CU, attending countless meetings with him as the two stood 1-2 on the depth chart heading into the 1995 season.  When Detmer went down in the fourth game against Texas A&M, Hessler came in and rallied the Buffaloes to a 29-21 win over the No. 3 Aggies.  He then started the next game at No. 10 Oklahoma, and after spotting the Sooners a 10-0 lead, threw a school record five touchdown passes as the Buffaloes decimated OU, 38-17.  A star was born.


 Detmer returned healthy the following season, and matched Hessler’s effort the previous year in leading the Buffs to a 10-2 record and a resounding bowl victory over a Pac-10 Conference school: Hessler led the Buffs to a 38-6 dismantling of Oregon in the Cotton Bowl while Detmer rallied CU from a 14-0 deficit to defeat Washington, 33-21, in the Holiday Bowl.  Detmer was drafted by the Eagles the next April, and is now in his 10th season with the club. 


Detmer had no idea Hessler was coming; Neuheisel walked over to Detmer after he took the field and pointed in John’s direction; Koy was shocked to see Hessler flashing his famous “Alfred E. Neumann” smile and trotted over to him, with the pair spending over 10 minutes talking and reminiscing prior to the kickoff.


“We almost immediately started talking about (Denver Bronco lineman) Matt Lepsis and how much money he’s making,” Hessler cracked. 


“It was great to see him,” Detmer said after the game.  “It’s probably been almost a year since I saw him last in Denver.  I know he’s battling hard.  He had a tough accident, and not many people would have lived through that, so it’s always great to see him.  He’s an inspiration to me, just to see him in what I do.  To watch him out there, working hard every day, trying to get himself back.  It was definitely a memorable surprise and I am glad Rick arranged it.”


Even those with no direct association to Colorado stopped by to visit with Hess.  Several players “chatted” him up, including Eagle starting quarterback Donovan McNabb and Raven quarterbacks Steve McNair and Kyle Boller, safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis.  Gleason relayed that Hessler was in “absolute awe.”     


Neuheisel said the funniest moment of the night came when Hessler and Lewis recalled the 1993 brawl at Folsom Field between the Buffaloes and the Miami Hurricanes.  Hessler told Lewis, “Hey, remember the brawl?  I sucker-punched you.”  Lewis laughed, as he didn’t buy it.  “He didn’t believe me, but we can laugh about it now,” Hessler said.


Hessler, decked out in Ravens gear, spent the game next to Neuheisel in the coaches’ box, courtesy of head coach Brian Billick, whom he also met.


“I really enjoyed being with the coaches,” Hessler said.  “It felt good — it took me back to my coaching days at Regis (High School) for Jim Ryan.  I was up in the box calling plays.”  He thought about calling a few Thursday, but that was one invitation that couldn’t be extended for obvious reasons.


On October 19, 2003, Hessler was basically left for dead off Interstate 76 in northeast Denver when struck by a hit-and-run driver from behind (the occupants of that vehicle were identified but never caught and are believed to have fled back to their native Mexico).  His car crossed the median and was hit head on by a pickup truck; he suffered head and internal injuries and several broken bones.  A Good Samaritan came to John’s aid until paramedics arrived, holding John’s head up so he could breathe.  Hessler spent a month in a coma, and then six months in rehabilitation at Denver’s Craig Hospital. 


Though he may not always realize how many strides he has made in his recovery, those around certainly have.  He can walk short distances, sometimes utilizes a walker or a wheelchair, and his memory seems to sharpen every day.  Hessler might forget something just told to him, but then he’ll come right back and rattle off the outcome of a play from the 1997 Iowa State game. 


“I’m doing all right, I have good people looking after me, doing good things for me,” Hessler said.  “There are times when I get down, really, really down, and understandably so.  Some days I am a train wreck.  What really helps is that there are nice caring people like Rick or Coach Mac looking out for me.”


Hessler stayed with Neuheisel at the Raven’s team hotel Thursday night, and on Friday he was scheduled to eat with the Raven team, get a tour of the facilities and watch the game tape with the coaches before returning to Colorado.


At DIA, another former teammate, T.J. Cunningham, will be waiting to bring him home to Brighton, completing the whirlwind two days, as Hessler said, with a Buff here, there and everywhere he turned.






I have added some recent news stories on John to the Media Coverage section of the website. Click here to see them.





From June Hessler

July 31, 2006



It has been quite a while since I have wrote anything and I am sorry the family hasn't updated for a while, but this part of John's recovery has been the hardest we have gone through. It is testing every ounce of our fortitude.

John is basically thinking again and in thinking you remember what you were and what you had and what you have lost. He is not dealing well with his losses. He is angry and depressed. Who wouldn't be, I know I would be if I couldn't get in the car and go and basically be my independent self.

We have the appropriate therapies involved, but any pill or therapy will never make you do cart wheels down the street till you are ready to face your demon and conquer him. I tell John he needs to pray for the help to conquer and then he needs to pray for guidance in how he can help others in need. He has so much to give yet, but just can't see it.

We will never know why this happened. Webster has the words accident and mistake in the dictionary for a reason-they just happen. Are we angry at the person who hit John? You can be if you want to be, but angry, like drugs, just consumes your whole life if you let it. Not worth it in my way of seeing life and I am trying very hard to convience John of this.

So if you have a spare minute could you are say a little pray for John to accept what has happened to him and that he gets guidance in how he can use what has happened to him to help others.

Thank you all


You can email John at




June 7, 2006


The Brighton Standard - Blade did a story on John that was published today (6/7/2006). They did a wonderful job on it! To read it, please click the below link or click here.


The heart of a champion
Brighton Standard-Blade - CO, United States





Update from Jolene


March 27, 2006


A couple weeks ago, we moved John back to his old stomping grounds, Brighton (Bulldog Country). So far…so good. He has been helping coach the JV baseball team & has also gone through the orientation program to start volunteering at a correctional facility with Jason. He is so close to getting rid of any devices that assist in helping him walk & we cannot wait to get Devin out here to help encourage with this. Currently, he is using a cane, but most of the time that doesn’t even touch the ground. He is going to physical therapy once a week for now. With him being involved in volunteering & coaching is a therapy in itself. Everyday, glimpses of the old John rematerialize with his laugh, goofy grin & silly sayings. He has once again taken over the reign as playstation two champ. He argues better than the old John did, he doesn’t let anyone win easily, if at all! Lastly, if you see John wearing sweatpants with a nice button up shirt, please do not hold any of us responsible...his is 100% liable for his wardrobe.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers and God’s Speed!




Update from Jolene



January 10, 2006


Hello all,


Sorry for the LONG delay with updates...John is doing great. He lives on his own Monday through Friday at a vocational rehab facility. He is responsible for getting himself ready each day, preparing his own meals, arriving to class & rehab on time...basic everyday stuff we at times take for granted and that he has long to do without the reminder of us. In relation to the 400 yard dash, he is at the 300 yard marker, and it's the next 100 yards that will be the most rewarding. Our ultimate goal and final prayer to be answered will be when John can live on his own without apprehension. The day when we can send mail without first putting a facility name, followed by; Attention John Hessler. We ask that you continue casting John in your prayers, as we proceed giving thanks for all we have been blessed with. Godspeed. Jolene




Special Message from John Hessler:

October 19th 2005


To all:


I am just sitting here with my mother reading you alls messages to me. I want to say I very much appreciate the thoughts about me. We were just thinking about the last two years of my life. All I can say is "WOW." It has been literally a "blur." My family has been the greatest of all and I appreciate all they have done for me. I have put my mother to the ultimate test. But she loves me no matter what I put her through. And then there was Jason. All I can say is that I am really lucky to have him around. Very strong people they are. I just want everybody to know "I love them very much."


To Dad, Jolene, Kevin, Dylan, Shane, Josh, Tina,

I could have not done it without your encouragement and support. I have been on many wild trips in my life. From mountain tops to valleys.

When reading all my emails I know I am so blessed to have so many people care about me. For that I am so thankful for this.

It has been two years ago today. At this time of day that I started in the valley. But "Hey look at me now" I am heading to the peak and not stopping.

I now live in Brighton and will be going to a vocational rehab center to help me enter the workforce again.








May 12, 2005


From John Hessler


Hi to everyone and thanks for the continued support. Things have been going great since all the setbacks after the surgery. The swelling in my leg from the blood clots has gone down and can be controlled easier now. I've been walking with more confidence each day and just got a new walker so I am now walking up and down the street twice a day. Lionel B. with Channel 7 is going to air a piece about me tonight at 10. And Fox news will have something on Friday night with Ron Zappolo. Things are headed in the right direction with all the setbacks behind me. Thanks again to everyone for the support.




April 7, 2005


From Jolene Davis:


Just a fun story I wanted to share with everyone...Like clockwork John knows when it is 8:30pm and it is lights out for him by 9:00pm. Tuesday evening was the same scenario. I've gotten involved in a show that is on from 8-9, I told John at commercial I would help him up the stairs to bed. I thought something was funny because John is never quiet when he is tired and wants to go to bed. Kevin came up from downstairs with Devin and Dylan and excitedly asks me "Do you know where your brother is"? I hurried to see what was going on along with Devin to find John had walked up our long spiral staircase by himself!!! He was on the third step from the top when we spotted him. Needless to say there was more cheering going on during that moment than when the other 'John' was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton! It is determination like that, that will get John to the next level and back to his own life without the requirement of US. We are proud of you John! It is hard to say how any of us would overcome the situation you have been placed thing I know, if I had half the spirit you do, I would be okay!


We love you....




March 23, 2005


From June Hessler


Hi everyone,

Everything is going well as far as recovery from his surgery. He has good range of motion in his leg and have Physical Therapy working on a contracture that developed from his walking with is leg out for so long.

He can finally lay on his side to sleep something that was not done for over a year.

The exciting part is we are going to use acupuncture to get his "meridans" to connect again. I am very excited to try this and so is John. We had our first session yesterday and it went very well.

As far as the rest of us we are hanging in there. We have learned a 'little about a lot medically, legally etc. Let's put it this way-it will be sooooo good to put this all in our rear view mirror.

Thank you all again for everything.

Love to all





February 26, 2005


From June & Keith Hessler


We had a little set back after the surgery. John developed blood clots in his left leg, so had to go back on Coumadin(blood thinner), but after 2 weeks he is starting to walk again, and the swelling in the leg is down. He has to still wear those sexy white socks, so told him we will go to Victoria Secret and get him a sexy garter belt????? It just set us back a little and he is determined to walk again on his own and get on with his life. One thing he has not lost in this all is his sense of humor and I am so grateful for that.

Our goals got a little side tracked, but has not discouraged us.

Thank you all again for your concern and words of encouragement.






February 8, 2005


From June & Keith Hessler


Hi Everyone-

Will do a update on John and how well he is doing.

The surgery to release the leg joint from the hip was a total success. He now has range of motion in the left leg. He lays on his side again, somthing he has not been able to do for a year and 4 months.

Our biggest challenge now is to get the muscles of his left leg strengthened again. He had walked with the left leg at an angle for so long that the muscles have to be retrained and strengthened.

Jason is being relentless in his therapy sessions and wins. Those of you who know John, know he needs the last word and usually does, but then does what Jason wants him to do.

This ordeal has made us appreciate the little things in life.

Wishing you all a good day.






January 27, 2005


From Jolene Davis


So good! John's surgery is complete and he is doing great. Even after only one day the improvements are remarkable. The range of motion in that hip has increased greatly, movements that used to cause him pain now feel good. Coming out of the surgery there was a little scare. People with brain injuries often times have difficulty waking from all the anasetics and yesterday John proved that to be true. The recovery nurse had a tough time calming him down, so she had to bring in the re-enforcements, mom and me!


All & all he is doing great and again we thank you all for your continued prayers!




January 24, 2005


From Jolene Davis


Hello All,


Just wanted to give you a quick update on John and his progress. In the next couple of days, John will be going back to the operating room to have the extra bone in his hip that developed while he was in his a coma removed and your prayers are encouraged.  The Doctor will be going in and chipping away what he can to give John more range of motion.  The outlook is very positive but John will need to take it easy at least six weeks. 


We will update the website as soon as John is safely out and asks for his first Dr. Pepper.


Thanks again to all of you that stay posted to this website.  Please continue your prayers and encouraging thoughts!




December 22, 2004


From John Hessler


This is John and I'm doing wonderful. I want to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to every one. Things are going great for me. I walk with a walker and when I'm feeling dangerous I pick it up and walk. Everyday I'm getting better. I have so many people to Thank. I don't even know where to begin other than to Thank You Everyone. I hope everyone has an excellent Christmas.


I Love You All.

Love, John




KCNC - News 4 Investigates


New Clues In Hessler Case


by News 4 investigator Brian Maass


Dec 1, 2004 4:42 pm US/Mountain



DENVER (News 4) A dumpster-diving Colorado State Patrol investigator has recovered pictures of a man who may have critical information about the hit-and-run accident that left former University of Colorado quarterback John Hessler badly injured.


A News 4 investigation obtained the pictures of Ricardo Anchondo Gomez and broadcast them Wednesday night.


"He's the only person that could shed light on this investigation," said Kelly Pickering, the lead investigator for the Colorado State Patrol on the accident.


Hessler, a quarterback at CU from 1993 to 1997, was hurt Oct. 19, 2003, as he was driving eastbound on Interstate 76 in Adams County. A 1986 Chevy Blazer clipped Hessler's Honda Accord, sending it into the westbound lanes of the highway, where it collided with a pickup truck. The pickup truck driver was also injured.


The accident left Hessler with severe head injuries and a collapsed lung. He was in a coma for 33 days. He's now living at his family's home in Julesburg, Colo., and is able to walk on his own.


"The guy did an awful crime and he ran; that's cowardly," said Hessler. "It wasn't how I was brought up at all. He just left me there to die. That's the saddest thing about the whole thing."


The driver of the Blazer and three passengers ran from the scene and have not been seen or heard from since then. The Blazer was owned by Gomez. However, Gomez abandoned his apartment, his job and a pending home purchase after the accident and vanished. CSP investigators suspect the 25-year-old man was in the U.S. illegally and fled to Mexico. They have now determined Gomez was using a bogus Social Security card and a phony Resident Alien card.


"This was kind of rare that this would happen, that they would up and leave everything they own without going back," said Pickering.


Pickering called Gomez a "person of interest" but not a suspect.


"It's all circumstantial, but it leads a person to believe there's more going on," Pickering said. "It certainly raises an eyebrow that he knows about this and left town."


Two months after the accident, Pickering traveled to Gomez's Aurora apartment, where the investigator found Anchondo Gomez's belongings piled near a dumpster.


"I did some dumpster diving and it was quite interesting," Pickering said.


Pickering plucked three photos from the trash that are now suspected to be photos of Gomez.


"Every case is different, and a person has to use ingenuity and imagination," Pickering said.


One of the pictures of the Blazer owner was placed in a photo lineup on Tuesday and then released to News 4. The State Patrol hopes someone might recognize Gomez and provide information about where he is.


Two witnesses to the crash viewed the photo lineup but were unable to pick Gomez out as being at the scene of the accident.


"It's hard to remember somebody you saw for a couple minutes more than a year ago," witness Laura Shoemaker said after viewing the pictures. "I want justice to be done. They really messed up (Hessler's) life."


News 4 learned that a Ford Tempo also owned by Gomez was stopped twice in Santa Fe, N.M., for minor traffic violations in the months after the hit-and-run accident.


The first stop was Dec. 5, 2003, and the second stop was March 13, 2004. The driver identified himself as Jose Jiminez in both incidents and indicated he was living at a motel.


Authorities have not been able to locate that driver. Pickering said he suspects that man might be able to help lead authorities to Gomez.


This week the CSP faxed a letter to the Mexican Consul in Denver, appealing for assistance in tracking down Gomez in Mexico.


Ultimately, whomever was driving the Blazer that caused the Hessler accident would only face misdemeanor charges, but Pickering said finding that person might help solve the case.


Hessler generally laughs and smiles, except when he talks about the person who caused the accident then fled.


"My gut feeling is he got scared and ran," Hessler said. "It hurts my feelings, that's what it does, to know that that guy would just leave me there to rot and die."


The State Patrol asks anyone with information about Anchondo Gomez to call (303) 239-4501.



(Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved.)




Rocky Mountain News


Photo may lead to clues in Hessler crash


By News4 Reporter Brian Maass, Special to the News

December 2, 2004


A dumpster-diving Colorado State Patrol investigator has recovered pictures of a man described by authorities as a "person of interest" in the hit-and-run crash that left former University of Colorado quarterback John Hessler badly injured.


A News4 investigation obtained the pictures of Ricardo Anchondo Gomez and broadcast them Wednesday night.




Update from The Hessler Family:




Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  This year the Hessler family will be

enjoying the location of our meal more than anything else!  Last year at

this time we were blessed with great friends, The Humphrey Family and Vikan

Middle School, bringing us a Thanksgiving Dinner to Presbyterian Hospital

to "gobble" in the cafeteria.  This year while we gather at the table,

savoring all the smells of "Junebug's" wonderful cooking, we will be giving

lots of thanks to all of you that have sent prayers our way and encompassed

John with your loving thoughts through the website, cards and wonderful

tokens of devotion!  From the entire Hessler Family.....we thank you all!


Now for some good news on John.....The wheelchair has begun to collect some

dust!  He does use it on long trips, but at the house John uses the walker

to go up and down and all around!  He cannot wait to show his stuff to

Devin soon.  He has also become less timid and makes attempts with no

walker.  I have a feeling that (no walker) will be happening sooner than

later.  A specialist came to see John to do a head to toe exam and was so

pleased with what she saw.  He still has so far to go but most importantly

the outlook is GOOD.  The surgery on John's extra bone in his hip has had a

set back.  The bone is not considered 'dead', once that happens the surgery

will further be discussed.  We will keep you updated.  John's memory is

showing great improvement as well.  We have not centered our attention on

John remembering everything, because pre-accident he was so easy going his

memory hasn't been one of his most admirable traits!  For those of you that

have known John forever, you know exactly what we mean.  His spirits are

still as high as ever!  I have never seen John have a prouder moment than

the other night when Devin called to tell his Daddy that he made the honor

roll, we are all so proud of you Devin!


To The Regis Raiders Football Team, congratulations on your successful

season!  It was so hard for John to sit on the field and not coach.  He

will be working especially hard to be out there for next season......way to

go guys!


Lastly, Vikan Middle School and all of "Mr. Hessler's" former students, we

will be in touch with the staff and planning a time for John to come and

see you all.  He reads his website daily and loves seeing your messages,

thank you!


"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow"

                                                                       Maya Angelou


God Bless you all,

John and the Hessler Family




Recent News Stories:


KCNC - October 8, 2004


A homecoming for Hessler




Rocky Mountain News, CO - Oct 7, 2004

Former University of Colorado quarterback John Hessler will serve as honorary marshal at the Buffaloes' homecoming parade at 5 pm today in Boulder. ...


Defense is Buffs' saving grace

Denver Post, CO - Oct 8, 2004

... "And we're up to the challenge.". Former CU quarterback John Hessler will serve as the honorary marshal at today's homecoming parade at 5 pm in Boulder. ...


Ex-Colorado star mounts another comeback

USA Today, United States - Oct 4, 2004

... John Hessler had the solemn attention of the Regis Jesuit High School Raiders. ... Hessler will ride Saturday in CU's homecoming parade as the grand marshal. ...





October 20, 2004


Update from John's sister Jolene:


Yesterday, John spent the day happy to be alive and the family enjoyed soaking up his glee! We all knew October 19th was going to be a daunting day on the emotions but it was also full of lots celebration and relief. We made it through the first year with no major complications and lots of admiration. John you are truly a "superman" in every sense of the word, who has so much to bestow everyone in your life. Your strength gives us hope, your courage is treasured & that smile of yours' is contagious. The fight has only begun and this family and all your amazing supporters are seeing you till the bitter end buddy! I love you!




September 29, 2004


Update from John's mother June Hessler:

It has been a while since I have been on this site and today I needed to read it -- it certainly does keep me going as there are some days I am not too sure about. I know I have said this before but thank you all for your support to us.


I find myself wishing my days away as I can't wait to have his surgery done and then see the improvements again. There are the days when I think of where we were almost 1 year ago and where we are now and I am thankful. It is sort of like seeing you kids grow, all of a sudden they are doing something different, and that has been the progress we see here.


We will know more about the surgery after the 11th as that is when he will have a bone scan done to tell us the H.O. is, they use the word dead and then they can do surgery on it.


We play different games to help with his memory and once he learns the game he does quite well.


His appetite is too good. He is up to 184 lbs. but it looks good on him as when he was 143 lbs he did not look good. John is a Dr. Pepper fanatic but is limited to one a day-well maybe two but not a 6 pack like he used too.


Thank you all again for your continued support and thoughts of us. Keep them coming, as we really need them some days.




July 28, 2004


Update from John's brother Jason Hessler:


I know we (the family) have not updated this in awhile, but as everybody knows, it will be a long process. I get to work with John everyday and he never ceases to amaze me. Everyday his spirits are very high and always makes me laugh. He is walking with crutches by himself, although slow, he has came along way. We go to the pool up here and he can walk by himself in there. He is starting to remember things alot more, and for anybody who knew him before that is scary. He has passed the 9-month mark and surpassed any doctor’s expectations. Thank you to everybody out there for everything they have done. To everybody that is involved from day to day thank you and I love you all. As we all know the battle is not over yet, but we got a great leader in John. I know I don't speak for myself when I say THANK YOU John for being you, and I love you.




July 22, 2004


Message to John from Jolene


Hey there John,


I continue to find strength from your endless spirit everyday! Everywhere we go people are inspired by your incredible determination and appreciation for life. You are truly an angel placed here to make a difference. You give people looking for reasons why, a reason to always believe.

-We make a Living by what we get, we make a Life with what we give.

-God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

-If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.


I find reasons to love my life everyday, in large part thanks to you!


I love you! God Bless.....




June 24, 2004


Update from John's parents June & Keith


Hard to believe it has almost been a month since we got John home. We also now have Devin here for the summer and John is so happy to have him around, and so are we, he will stimulate John far more than any of us.


The one thing about a small town is everything is within walking distance and Julesburg has opened their arms to us and anything we can do to help John. Jason goes to High school (1 block away) to work out everyday and takes John over to wheel around the halls. Our oldest son Josh works there and John tells him his floors are uneven cause he keeps going to the left with his wheelchair. The left arm is still stronger.


We have a golf course outside of town so last night Jason took him out there a left him drive a golf cart. It was the first time he has driven anything since the accident. John was pretty proud of himself.


He is doing so well in therapy and the "I can't" is getting less and less.

We make him write everyday and the first sentence is "I am going to get well".


The funniest is that John could not get it in his head that he graduated from College and would keep asking did I graduate or am I still in High School. Well I finally found his certificate and he has quit asking, and he finally believes us.


The strides are small but as long as we keep going forward that is all I want.


I still see an Alaskan cruise without my kids in my future?????




June 6, 2004


Update from John's parents June & Keith


Hi everyone and thank you all again for all your support for John and us. John is at home and is doing very well. Jason our youngest son moved out to Julesburg to help. Thank God we have a good sized home, as the shoes at the door are bigger, appetites are bigger etc. Certainly is a total change from what we were used to but what a great change it has been. John continues to improve mentally and physically everyday. Jason rehabs him religiously everyday twice a day. I also have a reflexologist coming in who has given us simple things to do to improve John mentally and physically. Jason has him standing against the wall for 10 minutes with no hands on.


The part that I enjoy is that Jason has been John's shadow as it is with younger siblings and John says no he's not going to do something so Jason just stands there and tells him if he doesn't do it he will have to start over. Then we hear the laugh and for those who know John he has a very distinctive laugh and he says OK I'll do it and does it cause Jason will start over and he knows it. John is using the excuse of "I'm handicapped" less and less cause we won't accept it.


Speaking as a parent it has been an experience watching your children handle crisis like they have never seen before. It has truly been a pleasure watching them develop into stronger people.


I have tried to write thank you notes to everyone, but if I have missed some it is not intentional. Again thank you all for your support.




May 26, 2004




Ex-CU quarterback released from hospital, returns to parents' home

Wednesday May 26, 2004


DENVER (AP) Former Colorado quarterback John Hessler checked out of a hospital and returned to his parents' home in Sterling on Wednesday, another milestone in his long recovery from a serious head injury.


``He was extremely excited,'' said Jen Baker, a friend who serves as the Hessler family spokeswoman. ``He's ready to go home.''


Hessler, 29, was critically injured in late October when a hit-and-run driver struck his car from behind on a Denver freeway, flinging it into oncoming traffic where it was broadsided by a pickup.


He was in a coma for 33 days. For the past six months, Hessler has been at Craig Hospital in suburban Englewood, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries. He improved enough that his rehabilitation could continue at home, Baker said.


``The next big thing will be walking. He's really excited about that,'' Baker said.


Hessler won the hearts of University in Colorado fans in 1995 when he took over for injured quarterback Koy Detmer and led the Buffaloes to a 29-21 victory over third-ranked Texas A&M. He followed that with a 38-17 win over Oklahoma, setting a school record with five touchdown passes.


He later became a junior varsity football coach at Regis High School in Aurora and a middle school teacher.


Hessler hasn't set a timetable or goals for his recovery, Baker said.


``He kind of looks at it one day at a time,'' she said. ``John will develop a life that's comfortable.''


Community fund-raisers collected about $150,000 to pay for Hessler's treatment at Craig, Baker said.


The sport-utility vehicle that hit Hessler's Honda Accord was abandoned at the scene and the driver has not been located.


(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)




May 24, 2004


From John's brother-in-law Kevin Davis:



I cannot believe that we are only 2 days away from your release from Craig. These last 7 months have aged us all, to say the least, however, I keep thinking in the back of my mind that IT HAS ONLY BEEN 7 MONTHS, and what a remarkable recovery you have made in that short amount of time. You, again, have showed your toughness, your courage, your grit, and your zest for life throughout the entire process, all very admirable qualities. I commented to Jolene this last weekend that October 19th was, by far, the worst day of my life. The days following were full of uncertainty, unknown and never-felt-before emotions. But we were all able to find a calming, positive vibe when we would enter your hospital room, the same vibe we feel when we are around you now and the same vibe we felt being around you prior to October 19th. I was raised with the philosophy that "God works in mysterious ways," and that "Everything happens for a reason." I have been searching and searching for a reason why this happened to you. The only thing that I could come up with is that very few people would have had the ability to overcome this obstacle. You were chosen to make US all realize just how precious life really is, how we need to cherish every moment with our loved ones, how we must smile and laugh and enjoy each and every moment, and how we need to tackle obstacles in our paths with reckless abandon. I admire you for what you stand for, what you are about, what you have overcome, and for what you will be in the future. I am still trying to study and acquire the "John Hessler Philosophy of Life," and I know, with time, it will just kind of rub off on me. Like I told you yesterday, "it is all down-hill from here brother!"



I would also like to thank everyone out there who had a part in John's recovery. It would be physically impossible to mention each and every person, so I will just generalize. First, to all of the emergency personnel on scene, especially Rich, Denver Health and PSL, the staff and patients of Craig Hospital, and the surgical team at Saint Joseph's. To all of the Hessler family friends and loved ones (this covers a WHOLE lot of people.) You are all amazing. Thank you for being there in so many ways when things were needed. Thank you to the local media for understanding. Thank you to Jenn for helping us deal with things we never thought we would have to deal with. A big thank you to Vikan, Regis, CU, and the entire community of Brighton.



I know John says "thank you" over a hundred times a day now, but I would like to thank the Hessler and Montoya family's on his behalf for getting John to where he is today. Sanja, you and your family have been completing amazing from day one. It is truly an honor to have you in our lives. June, Keith, Josh, Tina, Shane, Devin, Jason, thanks for doing whatever it took to get John better, and more importantly, thanks in advance for doing whatever it will take to get John to that next level. And to Jolene, thank you so much for just being you. Thank you for doing whatever it took in John's healing process, but still being able to handle me and take care of our family. You are truly an amazing person.



The next step in John's journey being now. Thank you ALL for being a part of it!




May 18, 2004


From John's son Devin:









May 7, 2004


Update from Sanja


I would like to take this moment and thank the wonderful town of Brighton! This past week has been amazing. To start with, thank you to the wonderful staff and students and parents at Vikan middle school! The spaghetti dinner was awesome. For John, you made May 2nd a day filled unforgettable memories from the past and created new memories for the future, . I enjoyed watching his face light up seeing all of you.


Second, thank you to the wonderful staff and students at South Elementary. You read-athon was so special. It is so kind of you to take time out of your busy lives and put on such a wonderful event. I have never witnessed such well-mannered and behaved students! Very impressive!


Finally, thank you to all the sponsors who helped contribute to this unforgettable week. A special BIG THANK YOU to all of John's supporters. We could not be getting through this without you. Please keep up the positive thoughts and prayers, they are helping us witness miracles every day!



John continues to make improvements daily. He is being released from rehab at the end of May. Let the count down begin!

Now that he is at the end of rehab, his daily schedule has become more intense and strenuous, but John is dealing with it like a champ!

John has two more surgeries planned. In about three months John will be having surgery on his right eye. During the accident John's retina became filled with fluid and blood from the trauma to his head. The surgery will clear that out so he is able to see better.

John's second surgery is more serious and will not be done until October. During his coma, John developed H.O. (sorry I do not know what the medical term is.) Bone formed in John's hip joint, and is not allowing him to adduct or abduct his left leg. Therefore, John has to have it surgically removed in October. After that he will be able to walk again!

In the meantime, John will continue to undergo daily, strenuous outpatient therapy. He has come far on his road to recovery, but he still has a tough road to continue on. So please keep up your positive thoughts and encouragement, they help tremendously.




May 3, 2004


I sit and write with such an uplifted and inspired heart, thanks to

everyone who made yesterday an experience never to be forgotten.  To all

the students at Vikan Middle School thank you for showing such admiration

and love towards my brother.   Someone I have found joy in learning from

and I hope you all find yourselves learning the positives of life from.

Never stop believing in yourselves, the future is yours to decide and by

the way you all handled yourselves yesterday, I am proud of each and every

one of you, with all my sincere love, thank you!


When we said our final "I'll see you later" to the staff at Vikan, the

exhaustion was obvious but the admiration was even more evident.  You all

worked so hard to insure John......Brighton is home!  So many memories have

been made in that school but the one made yesterday will be the closest to

his heart.  You guys went above and beyond anything we imagined that day to

be.  We are so proud to have been part of such an exhilarating day with a

heavenly staff leading the way, thanks to all!


The community of Brighton is one that steps up to any call and opportunity

to show their support.   We are still trying to get over how many people

came to encourage John "NEVER GIVE UP".  John was so tired, but don't get

me wrong, he could of lasted another three hours!  It was so gratifying to

witness faces of inspiration apparent on everyone who came across John.

The world we live in has an abundance of bad things that happen so to be

part of a bad thing transformed to good restores faith and gives us all a

reason to believe, GOD does bless us in mysterious ways.

Make it a good day!






April 20, 2004


Jason Hessler  

08:32:47 AM 


John it's hard to believe it has been 6 months yesterday (Oct. 19). It's been a roller coaster ride that has a light at the end of the tunnel. Every night I leave gets harder because I know you want to come home with me. Right know the schedule is for John to be released at the end of May with continuous rehab to be done at home. He is in a position that mentally he gets better everyday. Physically he gets stronger but until the HO in his hip fully matures and is removed surgically he can't walk "normal." This procedure is a wait and see how the HO develops but will allow him to walk again. We are told it usually takes about one year to mature. The family thanks everybody for their continuous support. 




April 12, 2004


John's rehabilitation continues and he is progressing nicely!


Here is a special message from one of his friends. I just had to share it with you all:


Dear John,


Have had you in thoughts and prayers for quite some time and have been hoping to locate the right hospital to reach you. Friends sent a Denver Post story to my family, which I picked up at Easter -- and now have what is needed.


There are many images and snapshots that ring clear when I think about who John Hessler is and what you represent. Even before we met, I was aware there was something special -- you were throwing 50-yard spirals into the end zone as we were running basketball players around the track. Perfect spirals every time -- and I commented to a few players "Who is that quarterback, is he our varsity quarterback?" They smiled and said, "That's our freshman quarterback, and he's the best athlete in the school." I told them then and there "You're going to see him playing on Saturday's and maybe even Sundays one day." Your talent was obvious; but when we did meet a few weeks later there was even more than talent that came to the surface.


John, you're impact on arrival. Always have been. Always will be. There are so many good qualities you represent I don't know where to begin.


Courage: I remember the size of your offensive line in Brighton. That's courage. There was a game against Highlands Ranch that we covered with the RMN and you took a pounding. Every time they knocked you down -- and they did with force most of the game -- you got back up. It was horrible to watch -- and you even came by the sidelines after one blind side hit and made a comment about it -- but deep down we knew there would be better days ahead. They did arrive, too.


Competitive: Have rarely seen someone with a competitive fire as strong as yours. Have met and spoken with many athletes and business leaders -- you're the standard bearer by which others are measured. You never let your older, out of shape coaches win once -- not once. Most of your colleagues didn't understand it -- but it was part of what set you apart and took you to higher ground.


Positive Attitude: The brightest and the best. No matter what was asked, you set your mind in the right direction and most of the time did it with a smile. Keep that smile, it's one of your biggest allies.


Inspiration: You have always been able to lift the spirits of others around you: To make the impossible seem possible. People have drawn and led many people by that spirit -- it's the attributes of a leader. You made other people around you better -- and even though I've never seen you coach -- I know you are able to do the same as a coach as you did as a player. Regis is fortunate to have you as part of their team. I'm glad to know you have pursued this path and to inspire others to achieve their highest level.


It's my hope that you realize most of us have always been more concerned and appreciative of John Hessler the person than John Hessler the quarterback. You have inspired many people along your journey -- and there are so many more people who will become inspired in the future.


The road ahead is likely to be filled with challenges and highs and lows. Just don't forget you are not alone at any time -- just look at the friends and family around you. You are blessed in many ways -- plus you have proven that you have the qualities to overcome obstacles. If anyone is capable, I'm certain it is you.


Look forward to seeing one day soon. Hope Jason and the rest of the family are doing well. God speed to you, John Hessler for being the person that you are.


Best Always,


Jeff Berndt

Abilene, TX



Please share a special story about John:


Two days before John was going to make his first start for Colorado, we spoke on the phone. He had just led the Buffs to a come-from-behind win over Texas A & M after coming off the bench to sub for Koy Detmer. He was living out his own aspirations and dreams. We talked about his upcoming game with Oklahoma and it was easy to tell he was in high gear, even higher than his normal high gear.


He told me he was sorry that he had given away his tickets to a teammate since he hadn't expected to play. He knew I was an Oklahoma alum and that I would have come to see him play. He told me "If you'll get there when the bus arrives, I'll make arrangements." Totally John -- thinking about others and wanting to share the moment. "If you're thinking about where I am than you're not thinking about what you're suppose to be thinking about. Don't worry about me, when there's a will there's a way," I told him.



As a former media member, it was time to call in a few favors. It was good to have a couple to call on -- because it was a very special night.


There were 77,000 fans in the stands. None who knew John Hessler, even Howard Schnellenberger who was the OU coach. None who liked John Hessler. Expect for one former media member who managed to call in a favor and who landed two field passes -- one for his old college roommate and one for himself -- to see the first college start of John Hessler.


It's the only game I've ever cheered against the Big Red. There were claims of blasphemy and traitor that night from the OU groupies around us; but there was something and someone more special than the game. It was John Hessler's debut -- and what a debut. Given the pressure and the atmosphere of the night, it was the football rendition of Field of Dreams.


By halftime, Schnellenberger, OU and the national TV audience were getting to know who John Hessler was -- and the Buffs were having a field day. We stood on the CU sideline just below the 30-yard line and watched John throw for four touchdown passes by the opening minute of the 4th quarter. Inside I could only think about his family and friends and how excited everyone must be to see this event taking place. It was amazing -- beyond what I thought could be real -- and then I looked up the sideline and saw John sitting there with a cup of water, looking down the sideline.


He came down as excited as I'd ever seen him. "I can't believe out of 77,000 people there's actually someone here who knows me," John said as we met. It made me laugh because there was nowhere else I would have rather have been then right there, right then. It's as much, or more fun, to watch someone live out their dream than you're own -- and have had the good fortune to experience both. This night was his, and we all knew he deserved it. There were many people who were getting there introduction that night --teammates, future teammates, as well as Big 12 opponents.


"I can't believe you John, you're doing great!" He was smiling the smile of a champion -- and after all the hard work and obstacles he'd overcome, there was no one quite as deserving as John Hessler.


About that time, CU intercepted a pass -- and John went back out and threw his fifth touchdown of the game. He came back and said "I'll see you after the game."


We went to the press conference and enjoyed watching him work his way through my former media colleagues. He was poised and primed.


Afterwards we spoke of the trials he'd faced, the perseverance he'd exhibited and reward of seeing it through.


If ever one night could some up one person's life -- it was that night. John Hessler showed his grit, poise, tenacity, and talent on the big stage -- and never forgot his friends or family along the way. It's also why there's no doubt he will triumph again -- it may be a different field and set of circumstances, but a great future is built upon the foundations of a great past -- and John has both. Bless you, John. 




March 27, 2004


Here is a special message from John himself -


March 27, 2004




Hello everybody,


I am feeling good. I am scarfing down a burrito and spice cake right now. Oh and I'm on my forth Dr.Pepper. I push myself in therpay everyday to walk, I really miss walking. Thank you for all the e-mails people. To the Vikan students thanks for all the nice words. You all are so great, the end!


To my Sanja, you are the greatest. I love you more than you know. Thank you for the wonderful year together 'Lovebug'!




Please check out the front-page story on John in the Sunday March 28th, 2004 edition of The Denver Post. They did a wonderful job with it. :)




March 26, 2004


Update from Jenn Baker:


Hey Team Hessler, I just wanted to write a quick note and let everyone know how our Johnny is doing. The last few weeks, since his final surgery, have been so amazing! John has made great progress in speech, physical and occupational therapy and has really impressed all of us with his dedication. Everyday John works harder than you can imagine, spending time with him during his therapy sessions is so inspiring and reminds me what an amazing person he is.




John is fully aware of the fundraiser being held in his honor next week - he cannot believe the amount of support he is getting and blushes every time we tell him how much money is being raised to keep him at Craig!! John continues to stay positive, smile and make each of us laugh every day - he reminds us that just being "in the moment" is what matters most in life! (That and Reece's Pieces!)


John's family continues to share your stories and emails with him daily so please keep them coming and know that everyone is so appreciative of your support!


XXOO Jenn Baker


P.S Please spread the word that we still have 50 tickets left for the fundraiser!!!




March 9, 2004


Update from Jolene:


We were picked up at 1pm on Sunday (3-7-2004) by the hospitality van and started the

10 minute drive to take John HOME for the first time in almost five months.

John was granted a day pass that allowed all of us time to spend with John

in a setting we hope will be in our near future.  At this time the end of

April has been announced as a possible discharge date.  To some of you a

month and a half seems long but after six months of visiting a loved one at

a hospital this next month and a half will be very anticipated and exciting

for all especially John.  After he is discharged, John will have to

continue the rigorous therapy treatments several times a week.


The minute we walked into the living room, John blurts out, "There's my

chair".  A few minutes later John and Sanja were nice and snugly on "his

chair" as if they never left it.  It was so nice to look at a backyard and

see John's reflection off the window.  To watch John suck up the air

outside, smell the delicious pork loin bar-b-queing, laughing at the kids

playing soccer and for the first time in a very long time feeling normal,

it was such a rewarding experience for all involved.  His body still lacks

endurance but there was no way he was leaving before the scheduled pick up,

which was 6pm.  I have not seen us all smile as much as we did that day, it

felt so good, a new beginning.


So many people have helped make this horrible accident, a life-altering

event we will never forget.  My mom loves reading through the letters you

have all sent.  She gets such a thrill receiving heart warming letters from

the elderly that most likely don't have $10.00 to just spend on anything

but have fallen in love with this amazing 'kid' who has defied all odds and

has become someone deserving of their worth.  Thanks to you all for the

amazing support!


One Team...One Hope...






March 1, 2004


Update from Jolene:


It feels so good knowing John is back on the road to recovery and the word "home" instead of "hospital" can start being used. As mentioned before John's surgery went better than the neurosurgeons imagined. He looks great and most importantly is "whole again". He returned to rehab today and we told the therapists now is when John performs best, under pressure with everyone but him stressed. At least seven times a day John hears: "Devin (John's son) will be here soon and he wants to see more than anybody how hard his daddy works daily, so push the limits".


I don't want to confuse anyone, John is still not walking. He has been standing for up to 15 minutes with help from therapists and a machine. In the pool he does take steps with help. Our hopes are with the cranioplasty done his balance and thought process will increase drastically. So far, so good. John will need at least a couple more months of intense therapies before he will be able to come to a home setting and function.


Please everyone take time and read about the fundraisers being planned. The One Team...One Hope...One Night for John Hessler on April 1st will be the start to many great opportunities to show your support. John is truly loved and it warms my heart with all the outpouring you have given. The family as well as John thank you...




February 23, 2004


Update from Jason after John's Surgery:


Well John, we just got home from a long day, I can't imagine the day you had. Before I left, when I saw you, you were still pretty drugged up but looked great. Everything went as planned and from here on out the ball is in your court!


A special story about John:  Last night when we were getting John settled into the hospital where the surgery was taking place, we had some special guests come up and say a prayer with John and the family. The guests were Father Sydney and Coach Ryan from Regis High School. We prayed for the surgery to go well and the path to recovery a little quicker. After the prayer John looked up at Father Sydney with a smile and said, "Amen brother!" John will always have his sense of humor!


Update from Jenn Baker:


JOHN HESSLER IS SUCH A FIGHTER!!! Great news everyone - John's surgery went so well that even the doctor said, "nothing could have gone better"! John was in good spirits this morning and surrounded by so many people that loved him - while we know the rest of you were keeping him in your prayers...and it all went smooth and our Johnny is now "whole" again!


The entire family asked that I thank everyone for your continued love and support, as we have all said so many times, "One Team - One Hope" and they couldn't have gone through this without you! John's sense of humor is really shining through these days, yet his humbleness still cannot fathom how many people have reached out in support. Jolene reads him excerpts from your letters and emails and he is always smiling!


So now we can all cross "more surgery" off John's list and continue to focus on the road ahead! Please stay tuned to the website and the hotline for more information to come on John's continued progress and details about fundraisers and other Team Hessler activities!


Much love and gratitude to you all and remember to take a minute to tell everyone in your life how much they truly mean to you each and every day!




Message From June and Keith Hessler before John's surgery:


February 22, 2004


To John:

Well Big Boy we have gone through a lot in our lifetime together, both good and bad. But somehow the good is over riding the bad now.


The much anticipated day is soon here. You called last night and wanted us to come and take you home, but we can't just yet. You have a few more tests to pass and you will pass them, I have no doubt about it.


You have to be strong yet and you have to draw your energy from us and others. God has taken you this far and He will not let you down now.


To John's extend family we need all the positive energy we can get on Monday, both for us and John.




February 18, 2004


Update from Jolene:


Hello everyone,


This week is filled with lots of anticipation.....As a family we are asking

for lots of prayers and positive thoughts for John. For he will be going in

sometime by Monday for the cranioplasty.  After the accident, John's brain

suffered a very traumatic injury resulting in the neurosurgeons to have to

remove part of John's skull so the brain could heal.  Well the brain has

healed and now it is time to make John "whole again".  Like any surgery

this one is scary for all involved.  We have reserved a hotel room across

the street from the hospital and will have someone next to John around the

clock.  But please take five minutes out of your day and ask "The Big Man

Upstairs" to bless us with a successful surgery and recovery.   We will

keep you all informed of John's status as it becomes available.  John is

not walking or standing on his own yet.  Hours of therapy is required daily

and will be needed for a many months to come, which leads me to........


There are several fund-raising events that will be taking place and the

need has never been greater.  John's insurance has been wonderful through

this entire ordeal, but his rehab days will be running out the middle of

March.  Unfortunately, John is not ready to come home yet.  So these events

are being planned to help pay for John to stay in rehab and have a much

higher chance to recover FULLY!  The outpouring of love for John has been

AMAZING!  Vikan Midddle School along with George and Laurie Poston of

Maggiano's, Regis Jesuit High School and Coach Jim Ryan, University of

Colorado and Dave Plati, Invesco Field and Patty Moser, one of my best

friends and the spokeswoman of the year Jenn Baker, John's future

father-in-law, Bruce Montoya.......thank you all for your continuous and

endless effort, we are all



Event dates will be following very soon, please just stay updated through

this website and hotline 1(888) 674-3482.  Thank you all for the support and

love you show daily.


Love and Bless You All...........The Hessler Family


Please take a moment to sign John's Guestbook even if you have already done so. I just heard that John is visiting the site regularly and LOVES hearing from all of his friends, extended family and fans. The guestbook means a lot to all of us, so I just want to invite you to sign it again. :)




February 2, 2004


John's sister Jolene has sent an update on John's condition. Please click here to read it.




January 12, 2004


John's mother has just sent an update on John's condition. Please click here to read it.


God bless you all and please keep John and his recovery in your prayers.




A picture is worth a thousand words! 


Saturday, 1/10/2003


We have just added some NEW pictures of John since the accident!


Click here to see them.


He looks great and for all of you who have missed that smile - well here you go. He is still smiling in spite of his rigorous rehabilitation and physical therapy schedule.


Thank you again for your continued prayers, love and support. Keep 'em coming! :)






Sunday, 12/28/2003


Dear John, 


I just wanted to make sure you remembered this day 12/28/03.  It was the first time since this whole thing began that you got to squeeze that special little boy of yours and he got to see that his daddy is truly alive!  What a day.......


Sanja arrived with McDonald's for you this morning, you were just finishing up when I came.  We promised after you brushed your teeth and shaved we would let you lay down before the long anticipated reunion happened.  You became agitated and the best thing for all of us was a nap for "Oscar".  We call you that when you are in these moods, you usual laugh at us then agree.  We left for awhile and went to lunch when we came back we woke you up.  You ate a great lunch while I read you entries from  The whole afternoon every conversation involved Devin.  We can admit it now John, Sanja and I had major butterflies before Devin walked in that doorway.  This week has been hard, not only because my big brother wasn't with us at home for Christmas but also because you have been so upset with what has happened to you and we are the ones that give our best efforts to reassure you everything will be fine.  Then.......


We got a call over the intercom, "Is there anyone in there with John?"  "Yep", I replied.  "His son is here at the nurses station".  I only heard "his son" and I was out of there.  I ran faster than Aunt JoJo has ever ran to hold that wonderful boy for a brief second before taking him to his daddy who has never looked so handsome and happy.  John, you beamed with excitement but more than  anything LOVE!  Love for your little buddy who is the reason you have fought back everyday and overcame this tragic accident, giving us all a reason to believe in miracles.  You did not want to let go of that first hug and your smile, oh your gorgeous smile, you both were radiant.   Everyone in the room had a pile of tears building in the eyes.  The butterflies Sanja and I had earlier were because we didn't know how you were going to be.  Whether it was going to bug you that Devin wasn't going to be able to see the daddy that could throw him really high and catch him, the daddy that could throw a ball farther than anyone else or the daddy who could chase him.  None of those things happened today instead Devin saw the daddy who will be able to toss him up once again, the daddy that practices everyday throwing balls and the daddy who pours his heart and soul into therapies to catch you soon enough, but most of all Devin saw a daddy who loves him.  He loves everything about his little buddy, the way Devin tries so hard to tie his shoes, loves his gameboy, is not a good wheelchair driver, has a dirty room, has friends that are a grade ahead of him making him cooler and does not want to be part of the 'boys club' because they say bad words.  I will forever remember this day, that smile left on your face and the last words before I shut your door, "Thank you for this day!"




Friday, 12/12/2003


From Jolene - John's sister


Hello family, friends and John Hessler supporters!  With the move to rehab taking place recently, life has been busy for us all.  But, here is an update for you all....... 


John has adjusted nicely to his new environment, and his spirits remain positive and encouraging to everyone who encounters him daily.  He is doing three hours of therapy Monday-Friday and is very exhausted come sunset.  He had his first taste of "normal looking" food for lunch today and loved every bite. He recognizes voices before he sees the face and uses his manners all the time.  Covering his mouth when he coughs, using please and thank you and always telling us he is "glad we came". 


His body is still very sore from being in a bed for so long but he has sat and stood up with help a couple of times now.  It took awhile to find a wheelchair to fit his LONG body, but goal accomplished.  He has a nice looking wheelchair that I really don't think he will be using for long. 


He has been on this website and doesn't know how he keeps over 32,000 people interested.  I just simply say, "One day John, one day".  But he did want me to tell you all "thanks and hello".  He also knows he was involved in a bad car accident and "one day" we all will be able to look back on this as just a memory and not an everyday reality.  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.  By the way John, you keep us interested because you are so easy to love!




Tuesday, 12/02/2003


John continues to improve every day with his therapy. His daily schedule is very full and until further notice, he will not be accepting any visitors. He thanks you for respecting his wishes.




Wednesday, 11/26/2003


The below letter was written by Jolene Davis (John's younger sister) for John to read at a future date. It was not written by John.


The man, the myth, the legend himself November 26th 2003 12:30:11 AM


John is so unpredictable but yet so easy to read. I am going to view life through his eyes months from now, here it goes:


First of all, to the fiancé/wife (my family was so overwhelmed when you stopped by the waiting room they weren't clear on which, I apologize) that knew her husband needed to stop at the scene to open my airway and give me life on Sunday evening around 4:35 on the 19th of October, 2003, thank you. I cannot wait until we can gather on that date yearly just so I can say thanks for being my first angel encounter.


Then to Kelci, you were there in the emergency room when I arrived as a John Doe and took that second glance at my badly injured body and said, "Oh my GOD, I know who that is". Then your instincts took over and you called my family to be there for me, thank you for being my angel.


To all the Doctors, Surgeons, Nurses and Staff at Denver Health that were so determined to save me, YOU DID! Thank you for working so hard and so well together to accomplish this miraculous task.


To the amazing staff in the Trauma ICU you were all so determined to do whatever needed to be done daily for me. Whether that be breaking my temperature that had haunted me or just being there to listen to my family tell stories. You are all amazing! Mike (Everyone loves Mike/Raymond), Kate and good ole' Sue don't change one thing about yourselves! Also Reggie, I need to know why I owe you the box of chocolates? My family says you definitely deserve it, so I will leave that as reason enough. But you have to share with Megan, because I remember her being your partner in crime.


Then....there came the transfer to the new place and some guy named Jerry. I guess he was there to help my breathing and his favorite saying was, "time to rock and roll" and he succeeded. In no time, thanks to not only Jerry but all the staff I was without the annoying thing in my throat, thank goodness! The Doctors took care of any orders I needed and the nursing staff gave me excellent care. By the way thanks for setting up the extra bed for my family, I was getting homesick and it was nice sleeping next to my loved ones.


To my fellow VIKAN Knights, where do I start with thank you's here?? First to Doris, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with not only the greatest teaching staff but the coolest students around. I cannot wait until I get the opportunity to walk into that place and have all 500 of you stomping, clapping and chanting HESSLER! Thank you for believing in me and yourself.


To the Regis community, I knew there was a reason I would drive 100+ miles daily to be with you guys. The mileage did not compare to the joy and excitement that coaching brought me. I never got sick of being with you, Sanja was sick of not seeing me during the season, but after meeting all of you she knew why I loved you all so much. The Regis players are top notch. Their beliefs and strengths are years above mine, even being years younger. One word of wisdom, ONE TEAM, ONE HOPE, we will always be!


To my Buffalo family, CU was a clear choice for me. My memories there go way beyond a computer screen. Mr. Plati, I noticed by your message in the guest book, you are still as funny as ever. Becky Cabral, I am requesting some of those cookies I haven't stopped hearing about. To the coaching staff, and players, thank you for standing up and believing in this soldier, your forever Buffalo.


To my mom, I love you and the amazing strength and encouragement you brought to the room daily. You have always kept us in line and I knew better not to make Junebug mad. So I fought mom, everyday I would give a little more and battle harder. Dad, you were in this battle once and I held your hand and told you everything was going to be okay just like you have done for me and it was. I feel truly blessed to call you my parents!


Josh I cannot wait to get out hunting and fishing. You are the only one that has a bigger competitive bone then me. Don't get all my pheasants and geese, I need bragging rights too!


Jason, Jason, Jason, big man I missed you! No one makes me laugh more than you. Have you found a girl yet? Come on ladies it would be nothing but an honored to date this guy because he is truly one of a kind! Hoops brother, get my shoes ready.


The game, AKA Stacy, are we every not going to be roommates? After 10 years why haven't we got sick of each other? The answer is easy because you are like my brother and I love you. Thank you for you dedication to me and my family. You always make a room that much more entertaining.


Big Red, thank you for being the man behind the man. I have never been one to be organized but you made it happen. You took care of things my family could not handle, gave them time to be with me, and always thought of them before yourself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Jenny Baker, I thought PR would be a cool gig, but way to much work! We all thank the man upstairs for you. You, like Kevin eliminated a million pounds of stress for the family.


Sanja, I hated to say goodnight, I would often ask for five more minutes, but knew I also had to share you with Dominic because he is special to us both and needed you as well. The hospital bed was not nearly as comfy as your arms and touch at night. Lovebug, it is time to disguised everyone with all our PDA, public display of affection. And I am sorry you had to take the teasing without me, but baby I am back to help defend against my siblings!


Devin, my little buddy, I cannot tell you how much I missed you and love you. You are daddy's number one receiver! I was so glad to hear how well you are doing in school. I cannot wait to throw you up in the air and never let you go. I missed your giggle and your funny jokes. Kid, they don't get any cooler than you and any prouder than me! We will be sitting by the ponds very soon, pulling out the big ones son, I promise.


To the angel who appeared to help me through this journey. You made this miraculous story end with a happy ending for all. No one knows how you got there, but I do!


To all the prayers said on my behalf, they worked! Believe in the power of miracles......


P.S. Jojo, we will talk very soon in person. It is late and I am still healing.


Love to you all,

John Keith Hessler, Jr.




Tuesday, 11/25/2003


John continues to be alert, responsive, talking, and his physical therapy is coming along nicely. Yesterday he stood up for a short time and was able to start eating a little bit.


The media links have been updated.




Friday, 11/21/2003


November 21, 2003: John Hessler is officially out of his coma and is no longer in critical condition. He is now listed in "medically stable" condition.


Here is the OFFICIAL message from John's family.


It is from his brother Jason Hessler:




John, you have no idea about the day I have had. 


I've been staring at the screen wondering how to write what I feel.  Today was the day we got to see the car and get the personal items out of it.  Kevin (my brother in law) and I went to the tow yard around ten this morning. Kevin kept asking me if I would be all right seeing the car and warned me about it. In his job he see's this everyday, but not one with a loved one inside.  When we got there we met the state trooper and all looked at each other, took a deep breath and went back to see it. If there was every any doubt that you were the toughest guy I know, it was all erased when I saw the car. It gave me a little easier feeling knowing where you were and where you are now.


While collecting items Kevin came across an angel pendent in the middle counsel. No one can explain how it got there, but it was right there staring at Kevin. After getting all these items, we proceeded to the hospital. As everyone knows he has been progressing everyday. I prepared myself to see the car but I was not prepared to see or hear what you did when I walked into your room.


We walked in and Jolene said, "John you got someone here to see you, do you know who this is?" John REPLIED, "MY FAT HEAD BROTHER." I was floored, those are the tears of joy I have needed. He can talk and recognizes all the family and Sanja. Today has been the best day of my life. After 33 days a new chapter has opened "THE ROAD TO RECOVERY."  We played Devin and your song, you sang some of the words to us. John, I love you and thank you for being the man you are.


Devin start packing your bags little buddy, cause you are coming to see your daddy very soon........"


To read more about John's week, please click here for a message from one of John's best friends, former CU Buff teammate Stacy Patterson.



With the recent outbreak of the flu, John's family (through their spokesperson Jenn Baker) has requested that he still not have any visitors until futher notice. They and his doctors just do not want to take any chances at this time.




Thursday Morning (8:00 am - November 19, 2003)


John continues to make progress towards recovery. :) John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma listed in critical but stable condition.


I added a very special message from one of John's best friends, Stacy Patterson to the Featured Article section. Click here to read it.


Thank you to everyone for all of your love and support. The prayers are working and so please keep praying for him. :)


To sign John's guest book - please click here.




Wednesday Morning (6:00 am - November 19, 2003)


It's been one month since the accident and John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma listed in critical but stable condition. He has made some wonderful progress though... Click here for an update from his sister Jolene! :)


With the recent outbreak of the flu, John's family (through their spokesperson Jenn Baker) has requested that he not have anymore visitors until futher notice. They and his doctors just do not want to take any chances at this time. If you have questions, please contact Jenn Baker. Please take advantage of the website and the hotline for updates on John.


Thank you all for your ongoing support and prayers.




Saturday Evening (6:30 pm - November 15, 2003)


John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma listed in critical but stable condition. He is making progress though, squeezing hands and moving his thumb. He is doing well at the new hospital.


New pictures have been added to the online photo album. Click here to see them.


We want to close with a message to John from Coach Ryan:


November 13, 2003


Coach Hessler,

As our players were handing in their equipment today, we were all disappointed that our fight for a state championship this season is over. Could have used an ingenious play against Pomona! Although we will not be taking the field again this year, our players and coaches know that your fight continues and want you to know that we are by your side! We fight for you with our encouragement and our prayers day and night. Please know that you have been missed as a coach, but even more as a friend these last few weeks. The coaching office, the locker room and the field just haven't been the same without you. We wil not give up hope that you will be on the field for the 2004 Regis Jesuit football season. Remember, we are always.... One Team... One Hope... We are still with you Coach Hessler. We love you, John.

Coach Ryan




Tuesday Evening (6:15 pm - November 11, 2003)


John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma listed in critical but stable condition. He is making progress though, so please keep praying for him.


Wow... is all I have to say. There was a WONDERFUL article written about John in today's Denver Post. Thank you! To read it - click here. 


Please take a moment to offer your thoughts and prayers for John in his guestbook. Those entries offer so much inspiration and hope to his family and to those who visit the site. The funny stories are great too! Click here for the guestbook.






Monday Afternoon (12:30 pm - November 10, 2003)


CBS 4 - KCNC did a great story on John last night. :) Thank you!


11/09/2003 - Former CU Quarterback John Hessler Continues His Recovery




Sunday Evening (6:45 pm - November 9, 2003)


From John's Parents:


O.K. everyone you had better be sitting down on this note cause it is finally encouraging. No he is not awake yet, but he is responding to commands. He lifts his thumb on command..... He squeezes your hand and then will let loose on command. Huge step for traumatic brain injury and much needed encouragement for the family.



We just can't say enough about this website and how you all have kept us going. Thank you all just doesn't seem enough but that is all we can do at this time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.



Love to all

John's family




Saturday Night (11:30 pm - November 8, 2003)


I thought I would share this message from John's Guestbook with everyone. It is from David Plati, CU Sports Info..


"I want everyone to know what Coach Gary Barnett did after today's 21-16 Colorado win over No. 22 Missouri:


He announced to the team in the lockerroom that he wanted to give the game ball to John Hessler. (Gary rarely does the game ball thing, and wanted to clear it with the team). The team in unison roared their approval.


“This is a small token of the 2003 team’s appreciation for John and what he’s done for our program,” Barnett said. “We remain in a vigil for him, with our thoughts and prayers for his him and his family.”


Quarterback Joel Klatt added, “You know, I grew up watching John play quarterback here. Just because you’ve graduated from CU doesn’t mean you’ve left the Colorado Buffalo football family. John’s a part of this program, we’re thinking of him and his family, and we’re all praying for his recovery.”


Okay Hess, CU made its comeback from three straight losses. Now it's your turn--wake up soon, buddy!


Dave P, your S.I.D."


Wow... Thank you Coach Barnett, the CU Buffs and thank you Dave for this wonderful honor. We can't wait for John to wake up and accept this wonderful gift!




Saturday Morning (9:00 am - November 8, 2003)


John is making progress everyday. He is still listed in critical but stable condition and is still in a coma. Please keep praying for him and his family. Pray that he wakes up soon. :)


A few pages on the site have been updated. There is a new letter from his family, a new letter added to Inspiration and a new addition to Featured Article.




Thursday Evening (8:00 pm - November 6, 2003)


This afternoon John was moved to a rehabilitation facility at another hospital. The transport went very well and John is resting nicely tonight at the new hospital. He is still in a coma and is still listed in critical but stable condition.


Please keep him in your prayers.Please share your thoughts and prayers in John's guestbook. Those entries serve as a source of inspiration to everyone who is on "Team Hessler"... a team of worldwide supporters for John and his family during this difficult time. :)




Thursday Morning (7:30 am - November 6, 2003)


John's condition remains the same. His is making small steps towards recovery. He is still in a coma listed as critical, but stable condition.


There is a new KCNC video link added to the Media section. Click here to see it.


Thank you for your continued prayers, love and support. As soon as we have some new news, we will add it to the site.




Tuesday  Morning (9:30 am - November 4, 2003)


John's parents June and Keith have sent a letter to John's son Devin. It was posted to the guestbook. To see the letter - click here.


In that letter, they have an update on John. Here it is:


"Your Dad is so close to waking up. His brain swelling is greatly improved. He is breathing on his own for a while but still needs the vent. to assist, but that's OK, because his lungs were pretty damaged and he still needs the good oxygen to breathe."


I also suggest that you read the new letter added to Inspiration. It's great!




The hospital still has him listed as critical but stable. He is also still in a coma. He is making progress in his recovery, it's just going to take time.


Please keep praying for him and his recovery. The prayers are helping John and his family and we still need them today.


Also, if you have any information regarding the hit-and-run accident, please click here.


Thank you for all of your support and for signing the guestbook. It really means a lot to the family, friends and supporters.




Friday Morning (5:12 am - Oct. 31, 2003)


Below is an update from John's parents - June & Keith Hessler:


"John is taking "baby" steps in so many things that are positive. He does grasp our hands, moves his feet and I truly believe he hears us.


He is still in a coma but that's OK the brain needs the rest to heal. He has opened his eyes for just a moment a couple of times.


He still needs the vent. to breath as he gets so tired to breath on his own yet.

I did corner his Doctor yesterday and the word Rehab came out of his mouth. Medically he is getting stable, now it is the waking up process and I am sure retraining process."


To read the entire message - click here.






Thursday Night (10:00 pm - Oct. 30, 2003)


John is still in a coma and listed in critical but stable condition. He is making progress in his recovery with "baby steps" every single day. We all just have to be patient. Injuries like this take time to heal.


We do request that you please keep praying for him and his recovery.


I would also like to request that you please sign the guestbook. Those entries mean so much to John's family and all of his friends and fans who read them.


Click here to sign the guestbook.


Thank you all for all of the support, love, and especially for your prayers. We appreciate you more than you will ever know. You are our strength... our brothers and sisters in Christ.




Wednesday Afternoon (3:00 pm - Oct. 29, 2003)


John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma and listed in critical but stable condition.


We would like to send heartfelt thoughts and prayers to everyone who is affected by the Colorado Cherokee and Overland Fires as well as the fires in California. To make a contribution to the Red Cross - Mile High Chapter click here for an online donation form or you can mail a donation to:


Mile High Chapter

444 Sherman St.

Denver, CO 80203


Please be safe out there and don't take any chances.




Tuesday Afternoon (4:00 pm - Oct. 28, 2003)


John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma and listed in critical but stable condition.


There are some new video links added to the media page. Click here to see them.


Thank you for your continued prayers and please keep them coming. We believe in the power of prayer and we know that God has a miracle with John's name on it. We have faith...




Monday Afternoon (4:15 pm - Oct. 27, 2003)


John's condition remains the same. He is still in a coma and listed in critical but stable condition.


We invite you to sign the guestbook. If you have a special story about John, some thoughts or a prayer, we would love to hear from you.




Sunday Afternoon (3:15 pm - Oct. 26, 2003)


John has had a good restful weekend. He is still in a coma listed in critical but stable condition.


The family wants to thank everyone for signing the guestbook sharing their thoughts, prayers and stories about John. The entries are a source of strength and inspiration.


If you would like to sign the guestbook - click here.




Saturday Morning (7:15 am - Oct. 25, 2003)


No change in John's condition at this time.


We do want to let you all know that the CU Buffs will have a video tribute for John at today's game against OU.


Video tribute planned at CU game for injured former Buffs quarterback - Click here for more details.




Friday Evening (6:45 pm - Oct. 24, 2003)


A new hotline phone number has been set up by the family for John's updates. Please use this new number for daily updates: 1-888-674-3482. 




Friday Afternoon & Weekend Update (3:45 pm - Oct. 24, 2003)


There have been no changes at this time. It should be a quiet weekend for John. We will send another update on Monday unless there is a change in his condition.


Please continue praying for him. We certainly appreciate your support, the outpouring of love and all of those prayers being sent up for him.




Friday Morning Update (10:30 am - Oct. 24, 2003)


John had a good night's rest. No change at this time. John is still in a coma, listed in critical but stable condition.




Thursday Night Update (11:30 pm - Oct. 23, 2003)


No change at this time. John is still in a coma, listed in critical but stable condition. He has passed the 100 hour mark and that is good news.




Thursday Afternoon Update (1:15 pm - Oct. 23, 2003)


No change at this time. John is still in a coma, listed in critical but stable condition.




Wednesday Night Update ( 11:30 pm - Oct. 22, 2003)


John is still in a coma, listed in critical but stable condition. He has passed the 72 hour mark which is very good news.




Wednesday Evening Update ( 5:30 pm - Oct. 22, 2003)


John is fighting strong. He remains in critical, but stable condition, and is still in a coma.




Tuesday Morning Update (Oct. 21, 2003)


The latest on former CU quarterback John Hessler, who was injured in a hit-and-run automobile accident Sunday afternoon (Oct. 19) in Denver, as of 11:00 a.m. this morning:


Friends of the family reported that John had a good, restful night. He remains in critical, but stable condition, and is still in a coma.


Since John has touched so many people, friends of the family have established a telephone line for friends and supporters to call for updates: 303-904-4525.


Cards, well-wishes and donations (to Vikan Middle School or Regis High School) can be sent in care of John's name. Click here for more information.






Courtesy: David Plati, Assistant AD/Media Relations




Former University of Colorado football player and Colorado Rockies farm system pitcher John Hessler was in a serious automobile accident Sunday afternoon on Interstate 76 just east of Interstate 25 in north Denver.


The car John was driving in was clipped from behind; his car then crossed over the highway and was hit by another vehicle. The driver of that car was also hospitalized; the two people in the car that first hit Hessler abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.


The Colorado State Patrol is asking for anyone who either witnessed the crash, which occurred around 4:30 p.m., or has any information to call 303-239-4501.


John is in a Denver hospital in critical condition, in a coma, with a collapsed lung and a major head injury.  He cannot accept visitors. (NOTE: the family has asked that the name of the hospital not be released and the family does not want to do any interviews at this time.  Per federal HIPAA laws, hospitals cannot confirm if a patient is registered in their facility.)


The Hessler family would like everyone to know they appreciate thoughts and prayers for John's recovery.


Hessler is currently working as an assistant coach at Regis High School in Denver.


"This is really hard for our football team.  John is well-liked and respected by our kids," said Jim Ryan, who first got to know John when he did color commentary for CU football broadcasts on KOA in the mid-1990s, when John played at Colorado. He then hired him at Regis when he took over as head coach this past summer.


Ryan is foregoing his radio show on KKFN today to be with Hessler and the family at the hospital.


Hessler was a member of the 1993 recruiting class and replaced an injured Koy Detmer in the third game of the '95 season, rallying CU to a 29-21 win over No. 3 Texas A&M.  He started the remainder of that season and the entire 1997 campaign. He holds several passing records for the Buffs, including the first player to throw for five touchdown passes in a game, doing so in a 38-17 win at Oklahoma in 1995.


With the Rockies, he was with the Rockies' Rookie league affiliate for the 1998 season.  As a member of Tucson in 1998, he was 4-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 games, all in relief, with one save in helping the team to the Arizona League title.  He retired from baseball prior to the 1999 spring training.









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