By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Ten years ago Cruise Bogle caught a wave on his skim board like he had thousands of times before.
But this time wasn’t like all of the others.
This wave was the one that would change the course of his life forever.
His board slipped out from underneath him and he hit his head hard on the sand leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
The past decade has been a challenge of overcoming adversity for Bogle. But the 28-year-old has managed to keep a positive attitude with help from his family and friends as well as the community who supports an annual fundraiser in his honor, Cruiser Palooza.
This year, the 10th annual event will take place from 5 to 11 p.m. on April 21 at the Delray Beach Playhouse, 950 Lake Shore Drive.
Food will be provided by 3rd and 3rd. Musical entertainment will be performed by Uproot Hootenany and the Resolvers with headlining act Crazy Fingers, and there will be a large silent auction.
Bogle was home in Delray Beach on winter break from his first semester at college in Tallahassee. He and a group of his friends attended a funeral for a friend who died from a drug overdose.
“We went to the beach to reminisce,” Bogle said.
His friends went skim boarding to decompress after the funeral. Bogle caught a wave, his board went one way he the other—falling in the sand.
“I was knocked out for a second or so,” he said. “I remember waking up face down in the water. I immediately thought of my friend who died. I was face down in the water and I couldn’t move.”
A wave flipped him over and he was able to catch a breath before another wave pushed him onto the beach. He said his friends thought he was joking around until they realized Bogle wasn’t moving.
“Boom, paralyzed,” he said.
He said he remembers his friend dragging him onto the sand, and being rolled onto the stretcher and exchanging a few words with the EMTs.
Bogle was rushed to Delray Medical Center where he underwent emergency surgery on his spine. His C4 vertebra was replaced with a titanium cage and four titanium pins to stabilize his neck.
He spent the next two weeks in the Delray ICU Trauma Unit, and then on Dec. 31, he was airlifted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA for rehab. He remained there for the next 2 1/2 months where he learned how to live his new reality.
Family rushes to help
His cousin Kristi Vick remembers the phone call she received alerting her about Bogle’s accident. She was shopping when her sister called with the news.
Vick said she remembers turning to Bogle’s mom, Billie Johnston and asking what she could do to help.
“You don’t know what to do,” she said. “You want to help them.”
When Johnston said she needed money, that is when Vick got to work.
She knew she had to throw a fundraiser, but not knowing anything about how to do so, she turned to her friends for help.
And Cruiser Palooza was born in her Lake Ida home.
“We just hosted,” she said. “We invited everyone we knew. It was get people here and get them to donate.”
Bogle wasn’t at the first event and neither was his immediate family. He was with his family in Atlanta undergoing rehab. So people took pictures and called to show Bogle that they were there for him.
“It was a huge success,” Vick said.
The idea of Cruiser Palaooza is to raise money to help Bogle offset costs he incurs for his care every year and to also set aside money for his future care.
“It isn’t just to offset the cost of the year, but what’s going to happen 10 years to 20 years from now,” she said. “The costs will never stop.”
Vick said reaching year 10 is a monumental milestone and she couldn’t do it without her original group of friends who helped start the event.
“It’s surreal how much it’s grown and how popular it’s become,” she said of the event, which attracted more than 600 people last year. “You really see so much kindness. It’s very rewarding for sure.”
Without Cruiser Palooza, Billie Johnston said her son’s life would be completely different.
“It means he has a different life and he can be as independent as he can be,” she said. “It literally makes his life our lives totally different than it would be otherwise.”
She said the support her son receives from the event allows him to attend a specialized gym where he has been able to strengthen his upper body and core, have an assistant five days a week and keeps his spirits up.
“It’s an enormous community event,” Johnston said. “We see people from Boynton, Delray and Boca. It’s extremely moving. It takes our breath away all the time. It makes Cruise’s spirits soar. It makes us proud and thankful. It’s amazing.”
Return to water
Bogle has found a way to stay connected to the water, something that has been part of him since his birth—literally.
He was conceived while his parents were on a two year cruise from Maine to Venezuela. While in the womb, he was referred to as Cruise or Cruiser, and the name stuck.
Born off the coast of Venezuela on an island, Bonaire, Bogle grew up on the water.
“I have been super ocean-oriented all my life,” he said.
The family moved from Maine to Delray Beach when Bogle was 10.
“You can’t get much better than this beach lifestyle down here,” he said of Delray.
While he was in rehab at the Shepherd Center he took an art class. It wasn’t something that he took onto quickly, but he painted.
About six months after he returned home he painted what he calls his “OG Mahi” a MahiMahi design.
Then, it was a jelly fish design.
Now, he is dedicating more time toward painting and building a brand and a business for himself. He sells T-Shirts, tumblers and paintings with his ocean-inspired designs on them. You can purchase them at the upcoming Delray Affair or on his website, cruisebogle.com
“I am doing way more painting now than before,” he said.
Bogle was 19 when the accident changed his life.
But he doesn’t ever question why it ever happened to him.
“He never felt sorry for himself,” Johnston said. “I never once heard him say what if or why me or any of that. When he was hurt, he was only 19 years old. He was still a kid. He was away from home for the first time. He had to grow amazingly fast and mature through all of this.”
Bogle said being mad isn’t going to change the situation.
“You have to stay positive and just put a smile on,” he said.
Bogle works for Vick part-time, has a great group of friends and enjoys watching football.
“He doesn’t sit idle, no pun intended,” Johnston said.
For more information about Cruiser Palooza or to purchase tickets or make a donation, visit http://www.cruisebogle.com/cruiser-palooza/