A life-changing injury to a beloved small-town resident has inspired his friends to bare all for a fundraiser run down the town’s main street.

Early on the morning of March 11, Jamie Chuck, now 63, fell and hit his head at his home at Tarpeena, in South Australia’s south east.

His wife Pam got out of bed to check on him, and called their daughter, Stacey Balnaves, who rushed over to the house.

Mr Chuck’s injuries included brain swelling, blood clots, and a ruptured ear drum that was causing spinal fluid to leak out of his ear. 

“It was a pretty horrific scene — I think we’re quite traumatised by it,” Ms Balnaves said.

“They’ve been married for 40 years and never spent any time apart, so I stayed with her and the ambulance turned up not long after I did.”

Jamie Chuck is well known and loved in his home town of Tarpeena.(Supplied: Stacey Balnaves)

Mr Chuck was then flown to Adelaide by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“We drove up to Penola to tell my sister, and it was just the most horrific day having to repeat this awful story,” Ms Balnaves said.

“My mum and I have both been nurses, so we both sort of knew what was going on … but even we underestimated it.”

The day after being admitted to hospital in Adelaide, Mr Chuck had brain surgery and is still there waiting for a second operation.

“They took out a large portion of his skull, which he still hasn’t actually got back in yet,” Ms Balnaves said.

‘Running of the Balls’

The Chuck family has lived in Tarpeena for generations, with Jamie Chuck well known around town.

The family has been regularly driving more than four hours to Adelaide to spend time with him. 

“The costs have been quite extraordinary, but we’ve had to have someone with him,” Ms Balnaves said.

“He did have a home visit for his birthday last week, but we don’t really know [when he’ll come home].”

His friends, looking for a way to help, came up with what they are calling the “Running of the Balls”.

Participants will strip down to nothing but a red handkerchief, and run about 500 metres down the Riddoch Highway to the town’s pub tonight.

Each participant has raised at least $100 to take part, and donated goods will also be auctioned off to help raise funds.

About 400 people live in the closely knit town of Tarpeena.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Allendale East resident Ned Reed will take part in the run having raised about $1,500.

“Chucky’s been a wonderful friend. I’ve known him all my life,” he said.

“I was only talking to him during the week [before the incident].”

Mr Reed said the community in Tarpeena and nearby towns had got behind the event.

“[It’s] unbelievable — everyone I’ve asked has just said, ‘Yep, I’ll sponsor you Ned’,” he said.

Although he admitted he and cold weather “didn’t mix”, Mr Reed was determined to take part.

“I’ve got too many sponsors to pull out now,” he said.

“I hope there are a few more young fellas … that come out and take the limelight off of me.”

The Kalangadoo community, where Mr Chuck plays lawn bowls, has also come together to raise money for fuel vouchers.

Mr Chuck returned home for a visit on his birthday earlier this month.(Supplied: Stacey Balnaves)

Road to recovery

Ms Balnaves said her father was doing “really well” in his recovery.

“He is talking normally … he walks fine, he can eat and drink whatever he wants,” she said.

“He’s still got quite a way to go obviously, but he’s doing so much better than what was expected.”

While Mr Chuck is not able to attend tonight’s festivities, Ms Balnaves said she would make sure he saw the community’s support.

“I absolutely intend to be … taking photos and videos and making sure that Dad sees it in some way,” she said.

“Maybe not so much of the main event.”

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