Sector67 founder Chris Meyer is home, recuperating from injuries he suffered in a propane flash explosion in September.
One month after he was burned over 40 percent of his body, Meyer left UW Hospital.
“It’s going well. We are transitioning back to a normal life,” said Heather Wentler, Meyer’s wife.
Meyer was injured Sept. 20 in an accident at 56 Corry St., the building being remodeled to serve as the new home for the Sector67 maker space. Meyer was released from the hospital on Oct. 20.
The “full length of his arms” — all but his palms and the bottoms of his fingers — received skin or tissue grafts. “He must have closed his hands into fists when the explosion happened,” Wentler said. He also suffered burns on his head, back and neck.
She said Meyer will have to wear compression gloves on his hands and arms as they heal, “for the foreseeable future,” but he is able to move them and goes to occupational therapy to regain his range of motion.
Some of the grafts were skin from Meyer’s thighs; others were StrataGraft, skin tissue developed by Stratatech, a Madison company now owned by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, which is conducting clinical trials on the tissue. The StrataGraft areas are “healing beautifully,” Wentler said.
A GoFundMe campaign to help pay Meyer’s medical bills and to help finance the Sector67 remodeling has reached $111,660, far surpassing the effort’s initial $50,000 target.
“It’s so overwhelming for me and Chris,” Wentler said.
That doesn’t include outside contributions, such as the $25,000 from John Neis, executive managing director of the Venture Investors investment firm in Madison, and his wife, artist Chele Isaac, who also are housing Meyer and Wentler during Meyer’s recuperation.
“We are fortunate to have a maker space like Sector67 as a part of our ecosystem and are extraordinarily grateful for the shared recognition and outpouring of support from the community to help the organization advance its vision of a new permanent home while Chris completes his recovery,” Neis said.
At the Corry Street building, meanwhile, the JP Cullen construction firm, of Janesville, donated three days of labor from ironworkers to finish welding support beams to hold up a second floor being added onto the structure, Wentler said.
Meyer had been moving a steel beam when it fell onto a propane tank, causing the explosion in September, Wentler said.
Last week, volunteers from Sector67 raised the roof at the new building, creating the framework for the second floor. Members of the organization and others have “dedicated hundreds of hours of time to keep the momentum on the construction project going,” said Scott Hasse, who’s serving as interim leader.
“We still have many significant milestones to come, but ... we are celebrating a major accomplishment with gratefulness and exhaustion,” Hasse said. He said Heritage Movers, Reynolds Transfer and Storage, J.H. Findorff & Son, and Krupp General Contractors also have pitched in with space, services or loaned equipment.
Wentler said she expects the project will still meet its construction deadline of March 2018 so Sector67 can move out of the converted pole barn it occupies at 2100 Winnebago St.
Sector67 was founded in 2010. The East Side maker space is stuffed with a wide range of equipment, from computers to car lifts, and offers classes to people of all ages.
Wentler — co-founder of the Doyenne Group nonprofit that supports women entrepreneurs and founder of Fractal, a program for children in science, technology, engineering, art and math — said she and Meyer have made several visits to Sector67’s current location, with Meyer taking more of a back-seat role than he typically has.
“He’s supporting all the members as they’ve stepped up to keep Sector67 open and keep the building project moving forward,” Wentler said.
She said doctors have not estimated how long it will take Meyer to heal. “We still are very much one day at a time,” she said.