Area church holds vigil for Smithville swimmer with traumatic brain injury

Smithville sophomore swimmer Kolby Ruff continues rehabbing.

SMITHVILLE — The North Heartland Community Church, 4800 NW 88th St., Kansas City, will be holding a candlelight vigil to honor Kolby Ruff, a Smithville sophomore swimmer who is currently rehabbing a traumatic brain injury after being involved in a two-vehicle crash on Christmas.

The vigil will be held 7 p.m. Sunday, March 21, near the Smithville Dam at Smith’s Fork Campground. The service will last approximately half an hour with Kozak Cares offering cocoa and cookies afterwards. GT Tow Service and Corkill Media are also helping to conduct the event.

His mother Yvonne Ruff continues to update her son’s status in a private Facebook group.

Yvonne said the family has received an outpouring of help and support from their church and the community. The family received letters in the mail “almost every day” from people saying they are praying for Kolby.

“People reach out to us almost daily to share their stories of survival and it’s all of this love, support and concern that is helping us get through this.”

Kolby has made steps in the last three months to allow for types of rehab. He recently completed a push up after starting from a resting position on two medicine balls.

Yvonne said that even with activities like sitting up in a recliner to get more time out of the bed and in an upright position, she’s seen improvements where Kolby needs less support in those situations.

She said the family’s insurance company has not accepted the request to transfer Kolby from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to a more specialized rehabilitation facility, such as Madonna Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“We are thankful for Children's Mercy helping Kolby with various therapies,” Yvonne said. “However, brain injury is not their specialty and we are hoping to get him in a rehab program soon.”

For ways to help the Ruff family, more information can be found at the Facebook group “Kolby Ruff - Kolby Strong” at

Sports Writer Mac Moore can be reached at 389-6643 or

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