Wheelchair for dad, more than mobility

This is my dad, Bill Hughes, on Christmas Day 2011 with my mom. Exactly one week before a stroke changed his life, our family's lives and all of his friends, co-workers and extended families lives.
My dad is one of the most amazing men that has ever graced the planet. He has incredible strength, inside and out....just ask me about the time he held up a Ferris wheel at our local bazaar or the time he was hit by 2 cars only to walk away with scratches and a few missing teeth!!

A massive stroke has left my dad paralyzed on his entire left side. He currently has a rented manual wheelchair, which he cannot operate himself, as you cannot really do so with one hand. His doctors, along with physical and occupational therapists have put into insurance for an electric wheelchair for him. This will be an amazing life improvement for him! To be able to sit for more than a few minutes comfortably in the chair, to be able to operate it with a joystick- not only driving it but adjusting himself/the back of the chair/the legs of the chair!

An electric wheelchair means so much more than mobility for dad, it means giving him a piece of his independence back, it gives him the means to not only exist it means giving him some of his life back.

My dad has worked hard his entire life to take care of his family, working 3 jobs for many of his years. As a young man growing up in Jackson Heights he worked hard to help out his family. He enlisted in the Army and served most of his time in the midwest. When he got home he met and promptly fell in love with my amazing mom, they married and he worked hard to create a home in Richmond Hill and provide for me and my younger brother Brandon. Growing up my dad coached our sports teams, volunteered at our parish, St Mary Gate of Heaven, doing everything from running basketball and CYO, to managing stage productions, to refereeing to painting the schools fences.

I didn't really understand it at the time but when I was in 8th grade, the year I was graduating from Gate of Heaven, he had lost his job but he and my mom managed somehow to scrounge the money together to not only give me an amazing graduation party but to put up and feed most of my graduating class through the entire following summer before sending me to one of the best Catholic High Schools around, St Francis Prep.

This didn't stop with us getting older. He continued to work hard and do his best to give us everything he could. He worked 2 jobs and umpired baseball on the weekends for over a decade to move us out of Queens and into a nice home in Long Island to give us a better life. He was working his ass off in his company for the last 2 decades - he was diagnosed with colon and kidney cancer in 2007 and had an operation to remove a piece of the colon and one of his kidneys and suffered a massive heart attack a few days after the operation. An unreachable cancerous lymph node remained and he began chemo, but was back to work within a months time. A few years later taking on management of an entire other building after the loss of a colleague all while still on chemo meds- walking 49 floors a night, 5 nights a week (sometimes 6) and umpiring in 2 leagues on his free time up until...

New Years Day 2012, dad had a massive stroke. Thank God my brother was watching football with him and I knew the signs, we got him to the hospital within 20 minutes of the first indicator. Even as quick as we were, the massiveness of the stroke and the swelling of the brain for days led all of the doctors to believe he would not make it and if he did he would be a vegetable. Believing in him, and not the doctors, had us do the opposite of what everyone thought we should and thanks to his strong will, our belief in him and all of our family & friends strong prayers he fought his way back to us. He has managed to keep his sense of humor and does his best to keep fighting everyday.

He spent 2 months in the hospital and a year following in rehab and is now home with us these past 8 months and it is an incredible gift I try never to take advantage of. He is paralyzed on his left side and despite insurance consistently shutting down his physical therapy just as he is making progress, he has been able to gain a little movement in his leg and arm! This is an incredible achievement, but still does not give him any kind of independence. He needs constant care and help.

An electric wheelchair with the specifications needed for someone who is paralyzed and has the health issues that come with it is extremely expensive - think 'more than a luxury car' expensive. While insurance covers a huge part of that (and we are extremely grateful!) it does not cover all of it and we need to come up with thousands upon thousands of dollars. It is worth every penny and more to be able to give my dad some of his life back, but the financial toll these past years have taken on our family as a whole leads us to reach out and rely on the generosity of the village if you will, and to ask for your help and your support. It is not easy for us to ask for help, as we would always prefer to be giving help, support and comfort- but this is crucial.

Please if it is in your power to do so, no amount is too small. Help us give him this essential tool for his physical, mental and emotional well being. Please share this with others, possibly whose lives he may have touched. The enhancement your help will make on his life and his quality of life is immeasurable.

I, my dad, and our entire family thank you from the bottom of our hearts just for taking the time to read this. We thank you for all your continued support, thoughts and prayers throughout these years


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Kimberly Hughes 
Westbury, NY
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