Will Ragan opened his eyes when Robby Fritscher, coach of Franco’s FINS swim team, came to visit him Thursday at the Shreveport hospital where the 9-year-old Mandeville boy is being treated for severe burns.
Fritscher was heartened by the response of the young swim team member — and the fact that Will clearly recognized him and Belgium Coignet, a swim team parent who made the trip with him.
But the best sign of all came when Fritscher jokingly told Will that he had to get better soon or he’d have to swim a mile again.
Fritscher said that Will and a couple of other boys had to swim a mile a couple of months ago when they were cutting up during practice.
“His eyes opened wide when I said that,” Fritscher said.
The FINS will continue to show support for Will from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with a car wash to raise money for him at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 1501 W. Causeway Approach, in Mandeville. Ragan and his family attend Mary Queen of Peace.
So far, the FINS have raised about $1,000 for Will, who was burned earlier this month in an accident at a science camp held at St. Scholastica Academy. He remains hospitalized at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport.
A 10-year-old boy, who has not been identified, was also burned in the lab accident, which occurred when an experiment was being conducted to transform sugar to carbon, according the fire officials. That child is hospitalized at Baton Rouge General Medical Center.
Fritscher described Will as a “strong little kid.” The boy is still on a ventilator, Fritscher said, but doctors are trying to wean him off of it.
Will’s doctors are seeing great progress, Fritscher said, and the burns on his face, especially above his mouth, are healing well.
Doctors say the skin grafts he will need may not be as extensive as originally thought.
Fritscher brought gifts to the boy — including a handheld game that an 11-year-old team member gave up — and a big team picture.
“We wanted to show him we love him and want him back on swim team as soon as possible,” Fritscher said.