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Spokane boy honored with trip to D.C. after ordeal

Fourth-grader Zach Donovan, 10, picks teammates for basketball during recess Friday, May 21, 2010, at Hutton Elementary. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Fourth-grader Zach Donovan, 10, picks teammates for basketball during recess Friday, May 21, 2010, at Hutton Elementary. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Zach Donovan recovered from being hit by dump truck, named Children’s Miracle Network champion for Washington

After being hit by a city dump truck in 2008, Zach Donovan survived not only to walk again but to fly to Washington, D.C., next month to meet President Barack Obama.

Zach has been named the Children’s Miracle Network Champion for Washington, and in June will travel to D.C. with champions from every state. He doesn’t know what he will say to the president, beyond “good afternoon,” Zach said.

“I just think it’s pretty cool. I get to meet the president,” he said. “That’s a pretty big prize for me.”

Zach, a fourth-grader at Hutton Elementary school, was hospitalized at Sacred Heart Aug. 27, 2008, with pelvic fractures and internal bleeding. He spent six weeks on bed rest and could barely sit, let alone walk, when he transferred to St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute that October. He was released in November 2008, but he still has doctor visits and is treated for bladder damage, said his father, Dan Donovan.

“I almost died and everything. I healed up in the hospital for a while. Then I went to St. Luke’s and they taught me exercises to help me walk again,” Zach said.

At St. Luke’s, his rehabilitation included lifting weights and stretching, Zach said. He played a lot of board games and did school work with a tutor. The Children’s Miracle Network provided toys and games.

“The Champions program honors remarkable children like Zach who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. From the moment we met Zach and his family we knew he would make a great ambassador for Washington state. The simple fact that Zach survived such a traumatic injury makes him stand out. His personality and energy despite his accident make him stand out even more,” Network Director Kirsten Carlile wrote in an e-mail.

Previously Zach was named as a “Hero of the Month” by the Children’s Miracle Network, and awarded a Wal-Mart gift card that he used to buy a Nintendo Wii game system. At the time he was using one crutch, but the game gave him extra motivation to stand and move, Dan Donovan said. On Friday, the Network and Wal-Mart sponsored a shopping spree for Zach to prepare for his trip to Washington, D.C.

The positive aspect of his recovery was the friendships he developed with his nurses and occupational therapists, Zach said.

“The hardest part was not being able to play with my friends and do yard work with my dad, be a kid,” he said.

His father, who witnessed the accident, said the big challenge was maintaining Zach’s bed rest. They had to roll Zach over in his bed to keep him comfortable.

“Especially with a kid like Zach, you can’t keep him down,” Donovan said. “We got through it. We’re a lot closer (as a family) now. We’re good now.”

Zach lives with his father, stepmother, and younger brother Evan, a first-grader at Hutton. His birth mother lives in Arizona.

The Donovans filed suit in February against the city and dump truck driver for $10 million. Before the truck hit Zach, the driver stopped and blocked an intersection and violated proper procedure without checking for clearance when reversing, the suit alleges. Zach’s medical bills total about $520,000.

After school lets out for the summer, the Donovans will spend time boating, camping and fishing at Long Lake, Zach said.

In November, the family will travel to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., for another Children’s Miracle Network champion event.

“Before the accident I pulled apart a wishbone and wished to go to Disney World,” Zach said.

“We’re just happy he’s alive,” Donovan said.