WOODWARD STRONG: A Van for Steve
While many of you are hustling and bustling about purchasing presents for your loved ones and enjoying the holiday season, what better way to get in the Christmas spirit than by giving someone in need the ultimate gift of a chance at a life? A wheelchair accessible van would change my father's life. It would change everything. As of right now, he will more than likely never walk again (but nothing is impossible!) and he has an extremely limited range of motion. He is entirely dependent on a caregiver and cannot feed, bathe, or change himself. He has had to re-learn how to swallow, how to speak and communicate-- even how to process thoughts and think. We have to use a hoyer lift to get him out of bed, and he requires around-the-clock care. Though he is disabled and suffers from many physical and cognitive deficits, we like to focus on his abilities-- and we celebrate in what seems like even the smallest of accomplishments.
With the severity of his contractures, he is digressing more and more each day. It is sad, it is painful, and it is heartbreaking to witness, but together, we can change that. You can make a difference. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?
'Tis the season of giving... to a family who won't give up.
Hello!! Welcome! On behalf of the Woodward family, I would like to say thank you! Thank you for your interest in our story, for your continued prayers and constant support, and for your words of hope and positivity. Thank you for your contribution to my father's dream of having a van. Thank you for being a part of our mission to spread awareness and to spread joy, to share our story and to share in our journey and my father's recovery.
We need a van.
My father, Steve, had a brain aneurysm rupture in 2010 and has since become a quadriplegic. He spends his nights and all but a few hours of his days in his hospital bed, unable to see outside his bedroom window. Though he has a wheelchair, we have no way to transport him outside of our home so that he can interact with the outside world-- outside of emergency room visits and doctor's appointments. He has not been able to receive the kind of consistent rehab his body needs and his recovery requires, as we have no way of getting him to the facilities that can help. When I asked him what a van would allow him to do, he said, "I could get out.. I wouldn't be a prisoner of this hospital bed." He has spent the last four and a half years feeling this way. I asked what having a new set of wheels would change. He said, "Everything." We need a van.
Countless surgical, nursing, and rehab teams have collectively saved my Dad's life throughout this process with brain surgeries and numerous procedures, and he was blessed to have had such an incredible team taking care of him along the way. After 567 days away from home in hospitals and nursing homes, we've been lucky to be able to care for him in our own home for the past two years (though a few months ago we had to move from the house we lived in for 20 years, and we're still transitioning and facing major challenges). This is your chance to be a part of giving Steve the best shot at the rest of his life.
My Dad grew up in Riverside and graduated from Holy Cross in 1971, where his fondest memories are working behind the scenes with the Stage Crew. He is an Eagle Scout, played the stand-up bass in a Bluegrass Band (when he still had a beard!) and helped run the Disaster Recovery Department at PHH Mortgage for years (He was always the go-to computer guy!) He attended Mount Saint Mary's (he went into the Seminary twice-- had he become a priest, though, we wouldn't be here!) He loves the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers, is obsessed with Pepper-Jack Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and could sing along with his Doc Watson CD's for hours. He used to ride a motorcycle (in the "before-kids" era), has had a life-long relationship with BOOST (that's a true Riverside boy, for ya!) and loves surrounding himself with positive quotes and laughter. He has become pretty close with his friends on Castle, NCIS, and Bones (we call him Stevie-the-TV for a reason!) and shakes his hospital bed with belly laughs while watching Ellen Degeneres and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
He played a remarkable role in developing the softball program in Burlington Township, where many of you remember him in his glory. He was the ultimate "Softball Dad" and to call him passionate would be an understatement. He was the Vice President of the BT Girls Softball Association and a coach to hundreds of girls for over ten years-- he loved that it was his life. "Play Hard, Play Smart, Have Fun!" were the words we spoke on our softball team before heading onto the field. My Dad had a way of spreading the love of the game and teaching girls of all ages how to learn from their mistakes and how to be unstoppable. He taught us to believe in ourselves, he was always empowering, and we learned what confidence was. He was encouraging and positive, and showed us all how to focus, endure, and prevail. He taught us the importance of sportsmanship and patience, how to fight, and how to never give up.
This is how we live our lives.
He is the husband to the most remarkable woman in this world, my incredible mother- my hero and an inspiration to all, Beth Sabo-Woodward. She is the true reason he's still here, and her commitment to her wedding vows and purpose here on this earth as a nurse are evident each and every day that we witness the true meaning of "for better or for worse." My father is a fighter, but it is my mother whose relentless pursuit gives us ALL strength.
DECEMBER 30TH IS STEVE & BETH'S 25 YEAR ANNIVERSARY. WHAT A GIFT TO CELEBRATE SUCH A BEAUTIFUL MARRIAGE... THIS VAN WILL LET THEM BOTH HAVE THE BEST SHOT AT THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
He is also a father to four,
Zachary Sabo, "Zack", 25, BTHS 2007
Elizabeth Woodward, "Liz", 24, HCHS 2009
Rebecca Woodward, "Becky", 23, HCHS 2010
Catherine Woodward, "Catie", 20, BTHS 2012
and since his injury, ALL of our lives have changed dramatically. We have all learned SO MUCH, grown tremendously, and we are all extremely grateful for all of your support and contributions.
We have rented a van before, twice actually, so that my Dad could attend his father's funeral and his daughter's graduation, since transport isn't covered unless your trip is deemed medically necessary (and it's very expensive out of pocket, even to rent for a few hours). It was the first time since his aneurysm ruptured that he was able to interact with family members and friends he hadn't seen in years. We watched my father smile and we witnessed joy and accomplishment, and we watched his memory strengthen with every person who left his side in disbelief that he could remember exactly who they were and what got them in trouble back in the day. See, my Dad is still Steve. He's just Steve who survived a brain injury and now uses a wheelchair. He deserves to be Steve and not just a patient or a number on a chart. He needs a van. A brand new rear-entry van could cost us $60,000-$80,000-- especially since he needs a hydraulic lift, and even used vans can cost over $20,000.. but hey, we need to start somewhere.
*100% OF WHAT WE RAISE WILL GO TOWARDS A HANDICAPPED-ACCESSIBLE VAN FOR STEVE (besides a very small percentage that goes to this site for its services.) If we surpass our goal (what a dream come true!), any additional funds will go directly towards equipment and resources relating to Steve's care.
^^ this is what we need!
^^this is how we get him out of bed. A hoyer lift, a sling, two people, 30 minutes, and a lot of patience, strategy, and maneuvering. Oh, and that nice shiney floor pictured was in our old house-- it's A LOT MORE CHALLENGING (if not near-impossible) on carpet.
My father lost his job during the economic recession in 2008, lost his independence in 2010, and we lost our home to foreclosure in 2014, but we refuse to lose hope! Steve has never lost his spirit, his humor, or his determination. He has never lost his fight and he has never lost sight of his dreams. His ability to wake up with a smile and continue to see the good in whatever comes our way is an honor to witness and serves as a reminder to be grateful every day.
1. Support us! Donate to the dream! Any amount helps and we are strong believers in the power of prayer and positivity. Every little bit counts!! We can do this!!
2. Share our story, with your family, your coworkers, your colleagues, your community, your neighbors, your friends, your social network, your clients or your customers >> you get the idea! Together we can change my father's world. Together we can make a difference. Isn't that what we're all here for?! Have you been looking for a cause you can stand behind? This is it! Waiting for a sign? Here it is! Let's do it!
3. Stay positive. Good health is a privilege. Quit taking the one body you've been blessed with for granted. Schedule an appointment and get over your fear of the doctor. "Out of sight, out of mind" meant NOTHING when my Dad's aneurysm ruptured and he started bleeding into his brain. He was helping a friend with yardword.. It was just another day. Be grateful for all of the blessings in your life, and remain positive through every challenge.
For (a lot) more information, a more detailed medical history, and a better background as to who we are and why we need your help, please visit our website at: WOODWARDSTRONG.COM
We are always available to help answer any questions, comments, or concerns. They can be directed to: StrongForSteve@gmail.com
****IF YOU WOULD PREFER TO WRITE A CHECK AND MAKE AN OFFLINE DONATION, PLEASE EMAIL LIZ AT STRONGFORSTEVE@GMAIL.COM AND WE CAN WORK IT OUT! THANK YOU!
From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU.
You are all beautiful human beings with such a special place in our hearts. Thank you for sharing our story and helping us reach our goal of a better life for my father. If you are unable to make a monetary contribution, we understand-- we've been there. But you can help by spreading the word of our mission, sharing our campaign with someone that may be able to help, and above all, we hope you take with you a newfound appreciation of all that you take for granted in your own life (from twirling spaghetti to hugging your wife).
Posted by Elizabeth Woodward
Thank you ALL! And welcome to WOODWARD STRONG!
Our family has witnessed an outpouring of love & support from around the world, and I want to thank each and every one of you beautiful human beings for making this dream possible!
We are still in search of thee van. After a lot of research and having the gift of a rental from MobilityWorks in Cinnaminson this past weekend, we were able to pinpoint the adjustments we will need once we get a van of our own. It’s taken longer because we once had a goal of $15,000— and because of YOUR GENEROSITY, we now have options to look in to and can get Steve the exact van that he needs. (Trust me, we’re just as anxious to get out on the road!!) Accessible vans are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE (once customized, some are over $80,000!) but YOU are the ones to thank for making this DREAM possible! So thank you for “donating to the dream” and for CRUSHING our original goal. We had about $30k in March and are now over $68k and it keeps on growing! Every donation gets us closer to granting the "Gift of Mobility" and EVERY SINGLE DONATION has played a role in changing our lives. Every single one! THANK YOU!
Our story has been covered on various news outlets and has been spread tremendously online through the power of social media—because of YOU! Thank you!!
The van will allow my father to see the outside world, but it will help change other people’s worlds. My father is a brain aneurysm survivor. We can’t wait to become brain aneurysm advocates and spread awareness- did you know that 1 in 50 people are walking around with a brain aneurysm? My father’s condition is more severe because it was followed by two strokes— but it can happen TO ANYONE. We can’t wait to help families in similar situations because we will be able to GET THERE to speak and to educate and to HELP. That’s what this is all about!!
Where in the world is WOODWARD STRONG?
USA, the United Kingdom, India, Poland, Denmark, Chilé, Perú, China, Japan, Finland, The Faroe Islands, Morocco, Mexico, Costa Rica, Germany, Bolivia, Turkey, The Netherlands, Liberia, Canada, Vietnam, Argentina, Ukraine, Holland, Australia.. WOODWARD STRONG HAS GONE GLOBAL! It has become an INTERNATIONAL movement of KINDNESS.. because of YOU! *Did you read about us somewhere else? Let us know, ‘cuz we’re working on an awesome project!
I paid for breakfast by paying respect to two firemen because of what ALL firemen are called to do. They weren’t fighting that warehouse fire- Tim wasn’t even there, and Paul and his crew were helping to supply water. That’s why the note read “No matter your role..” because their involvement didn’t matter! It was because of who they are and the respect I have for firemen and women around the world- they just happened to stop in for pancakes that morning. The two of them shared my hand-drawn helmet and words and then my family’s story, and the rest of the world has since paid it forward by BEING KIND.. By having their “faith in humanity restored.” Please know— good people are EVERYWHERE. If you can’t find one, BE ONE.
Thank you for your selfless donations, your continued support, prayers, positivity, and good vibes that have been sent our way. We are truly blessed to have been a part of such an incredible movement and we hope that you continue to be kind to one another, to help each other out and build each other up! One act of kindness a day can change 365 lives! We are WOODWARD STRONG because of YOU! THANK YOU!!!!
Posted by Elizabeth Woodward
Last Christmas we lost our home. Our "Christmas tree" was a construction paper drawing of a tree that one of us made in 2nd grade that we scotch taped to a bare kitchen wall.. It was really hard to get into the Christmas spirit. This year, not only is our house decorated, but because of all of you, my family has been given the ultimate gift of hope-- Of a second chance, a better life, a dream come true. You have allowed us to feel JOY in a world that is so overwhelmed with sadness and struggle. We wish you all such a wonderful Christmas and as you celebrate with your families this evening, please take a moment to reflect on just how blessed you are.
Play with your cousins--they grow up way too fast. Hug your grandparents. Give your aunt that kiss, top off that wine glass and listen to your uncle retell that story. Stay off your phone and stay for dessert. Laugh and laugh and laugh. Try to let go of whatever stress is on your mind and don't be such a Grinch! Appreciate the family and friends in your life and the time you get to spend with them. You never know when there will be one more empty chair around the table or when your Dad's in a wheelchair and you can't even get him there. We are beyond grateful for ALL of your support and as my Dad said in his video, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all, thank you."
Posted by Elizabeth Woodward
Grateful.. Appreciative.. Thankful.. These seem like such understatements to describe how my family and I feel right now.. In a matter of the 10 hours I spent at work tonight, we raised an additional $1,360!! I am in a state of shock yet so humbled by your generosity. We are at around 33% of our goal!! It is truly unbelievable.. I cannot thank all of you beautiful souls enough
December 24th at 2:14am ·
I know it's late, but for my daily donation update... here we go! $2,825----- In the last 24 hours!! THIS IS UNREAL! We are slightly above 48% OF OUR GOAL of $17,000. Do you know what that means!? WE'RE HALFWAY THERE!!!! Together, since Friday night, we have raised $8,220-- in 4 days!!!!! Your generosity truly gives meaning to what Christmas and the holiday season is all about.. If you haven't already done so, please view the two videos of my father. He wanted to thank each and every one of you, and although a simple "thank you" does no justice to our appreciation, know that you have all played a tremendous part in changing the world! Your kindness is REMARKABLE. Thank you for paying it forward!! xoxo
Posted by Elizabeth Woodward
You Have 17,000 Dollars Listed As Your Goal, And Unless Someone Reads Your Entire Story...They Won't Be Aware That You Actually NEED 60,000-80,000 Dollars To Get Your Father Steve A New Handicapped Van With The Hydraulic Lift. You Might Want To Change The Amount You Are NEEDING!! Wishing I Could Help!! But I Am Unable...So I Will Post, Share, And Pray. Our Family Is In Need Of Money For Medical Expenses For My Son Too, And I Hope You And Your Family Get The Van Your Father So DESPERATELY NEEDS!!
Becky, Liz, Catie, &Mr.&Mrs. Woodward. Thanks for always being the cheering section for our games. I still hear you saying "use your phalanges!" I hope you reach your goal. You have an amazing family and all you girls are such great people! I do miss you all.
Your story hit close to home for me... My dad is also a brain anyerisum survivor at age 38 he was left paralized , and was told he would never be able to walk or talk again...He is now walking after years of therapy...never give up hope...his one hand is still paralyzed he walks with a limp and speach is impaired but above all Hes alive...hes our miracle and your dad is also yours. :) thoughts and prayers with you and your family!!
My father may end up needing these things too.. hes been battling stage 4 lung cancer for 2.5 years.. he has a inoperable brain aneurysm.. no one will touch it bc of where it is and the medication he is on.. hes had many strokes also.. we've almost lost him more times then i like to remember... prayers for your father and all those needing them!! God bless you and your kindness!
I absolutely agree with the others when they say you should update your goal to at least $80,000. I am not sure if the page allows that as soon as you post your original amount, but if they do you should definitely update it. Some may come to the page looking to donate and see you have far surpassed your original goal. Also, Zack N Tatiyana, if you need someone to help outwith that ramp, I am more than happy to help. Just let me know. Steve, you are close to getting out there and exploring the world again....stay positive!!
We are with you!
I read that your dad is a fan of the Philadelphia sports teams. I hope this story reached the teams because these guys are so generous and I know they would want to help. And I hope the Eagles have a great season for your dad.
Someone mentioned to get the wheelchair van $70,000 is needed. $80,000 has already been donated. Liz, I would love to donate, but I live on only SS and I am unable to help out this month. Glad you do have enough to buy the van.
Great Story! Here is a waitress that gives 2 fireman free meals on her dime, because of the service that they provide. And meanwhile her father needs a weelchair and a van since he is handicapped. Just go to show you that there are some good people with big hearts still out there. This is the kind of thing that makes you smile! Thanks for sharing Kendra Wilkinson
My dad has MS and cant really walk and it kills me hes such a sweet heart. And you hun you are the hope i have for people you are an amazing a tribute to this society god bless your heart and your father
I'm sorry I can't help with any money. But I did want you to know you are amazing! I hope you and your family get all you need for your father. God bless you all
I wish I could help with the money. We are living check to check (barely). But I will share your story and keep you all in my prayers. We lost our stepdad in 2012 to a brain aneurysm it's a terrible thing and there were no signs. Love the nickname Stevie the TV!! That's my favorite show of all times. And I agree with the others to change your goal to a higher amount and I wish y'all the best of luck with finding the van that you need. God Bless!!!!
I have SHARED this story. So sorry. I agree with others update your goal. My husband is actually a firefighter so i have shared this and challenge other fire depts to help and everyone do the same to get VAN that your father needs. Prayers go out to your family, everyone that helps take care of your father. God bless.