A bar manager at the sprawling beer hall Loyal Legion, Conner Slevin suffered a neck and spinal injury in late January. While he lives and had successful surgery to repair fractured vertebrae, he now faces significant medical debt and uncertainty.
Slevin was swimming in the ocean at Puerto Escondido, Mexico, on January 22nd when a rogue wave struck him, fracturing vertebrae in his neck and spine. He was with his girlfriend Jane Morgan at the time, and was eventually taken to a hospital in town before being transferred to more advanced facilities in Mexico City. On January 24th, the bartender went in for spinal surgery; he and Morgan are now in Mexico City, likely for the next few months while he works on healing and rehabilitation.
Alongside uncertainty for his medical future, Slevin also faces considerable medical debt. Morgan has taken time off her job at Coopers Hall, the industrial wine bar and event space, in order to stay with him, but they remain remarkably positive. “No matter what, it takes the bad parts of life to appreciate the good parts,” says Slevin. “And this is just another part of that. It’s a difficult part, it’s really shitty, but the outpouring [of support] has been incredible.”
With his easy, gregarious charm and boyish good nature, Slevin is widely admired, and was immediately met by an outpouring of support from the bar community following his injury. Yvonne Gallardo, director of events for the Evergreen event space, and Garrett Schumacher, Slevin’s co-bar manager at Loyal Legion, worked to plan a massive fundraiser party at Coopers Hall, which donated its space and products. The fundraiser will be held Sunday from 7 p.m. until midnight at Cooper’s Hall, 404 SE 6th Avenue.
Donations from all over the community, including restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and bars, came in for what will now be the first of a series of fundraising events. “This event was facilitated by a team that came together in seconds, but honestly the service industry came together in a jaw-dropping way to support one of our best,” says Schumacher. “I’m so proud of our community, and how they have stood up for Conner.”
While Portlanders raise and spread word of his GoFundMe account, Slevin will be with Morgan in Mexico, going through intense physical therapy. They’ve also applied for assistance from Family Meal, a recent nonprofit creation that supports industry workers in times of medical crisis.
It’s no surprise that Slevin would receive that level of support, given the seemingly universal admiration he garners. “He is pure sunshine,” says Liz Serrone, a former chef at Loyal Legion, now a bartender there. “No matter what is going on around him, he is all smiles and hugs and positivity. He has this infectious laugh that gets in your core — customers remember him for it and it makes working with him an absolute joy. It’s been amazing seeing his community pull together and help where we can to make sure he knows the impact he has on all of our lives.”
As grassroots fundraising continues here in Portland, the two are nothing short of optimistic about what the future holds. “Conner and I have talked about this often,” says Morgan. “And something that just makes me feel so good everyday is that, the moment that the accident happened, we just looked at each other and knew that no matter what, whatever happened ahead of us, everything was going to be okay.”
• Support for Conner Slevin [GoFundMe]