IDAHO FALLS — Jen Andrus was hoping to win "Bish's RV Challenge" and walk away with a brand new $20,000 travel trailer. Her wish was short-lived.
The former Morning News reporter was selected into the top 25 and then got enough votes on Facebook to be one of the top 12 contestants to play in the "Survivor"-style competition and live in an RV for a week.
She completed the first challenge (a team obstacle course) on the first night and then something went wrong.
"Somewhere along the way my brain started bleeding," Andrus said. "Apparently I aggravated a previous injury that I didn't even know about."
At first everyone thought it was an asthma attack and Andrus thought she would get better and wanted to remain in the competition. But when she started throwing up and passed out, her competitors knew that she needed to see a doctor.
"The other challengers all decided to vote her out to make her go to the hospital," said Megan Walker, Marketing Director at Bish's RV.
An ambulance ride, three CT scans, a cerebral cardiogram and four days in the ICU later, Andrus is back home and her recovery is looking "pretty good."
"Statistically I am very lucky," she said. "Forty percent of cases with brain bleeds result in death and 75 percent have long term disabilities but I should be able to go back to work in a few days."
But the medical bills are still going to be a burden on her large family (Jen and her husband Trent have seven kids).
"We have just been holding our breath hoping that we wouldn't ever have something serious happen," Trent said.
"A few days before the competition we sat down at the computer to weigh our options and see if it would be feasible to pay out of pocket for insurance but it just seemed the budget was too tight," Jen said. "It's much tighter now! Any help we can get at this point is beyond appreciated."
That's where Bish's RV stepped up.
"We felt as individuals and as a company that we really wanted to help Jen and her family," Walker said. "So we decided to start a fundraiser and whatever we raise — we will match 100 percent. We just want to help her out as much as possible and are rooting for her recovery. We saw this as a small way we could help."
Bish's is taking donations until Oct. 1.
"We have jars all over the store so if people want to make a donation they can just come in and find one of the jars," Walker said.
Bish's is at 3911 N. 5th E. (Lewisville Highway) in Idaho Falls. For more information call (208) 524-8776.
"I can't express enough thanks to the Bish's RV team and everyone who has reached out in any way, be it prayers, well wishes or anything else," said Andrus. "I have felt them all large and small and they have all touched my heart so deeply. Thank you."