Jan & Carl's Independence

Carl Whitesel is in need of a specialized wheelchair van. During the last few years he has become totally dependent on his power wheelchair He was paralyzed at age 12 from an unusual side effect from the Sabin Oral Polio Vaccine Within 6 months he was able to walk but with a slight limp. His friendly, upbeat, and jovial personality made him popular in school and at a new fast food restaurant called "McDonald's". Carl started working at "McDonald's" at the age of 15 and stayed with them for 20 years working himself up to manager. He started at the Vine Street location in Willowick, OH and also worked at the Mentor location when it opened. Carl estimated that he hired and trained over 15,000 people during his time with McDonald's. Carl graduated from Eastlake North High School in 1966 where he made many lifelong friends. When he was 17 he fell in an industrial accident while working to make money for college. He broke his back in several places but due to the grace of God and excel ant medical care he was not paralyzed. Carl was also active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce and still loves to tell the stories of many events and activities; particularly the haunted Halloweens they sponsored. When Carl was 35 he started a "Mr. Hero" with a partner in Painesville. Soon they had the entire NE Ohio area with three stores and plans for more. While working late one night at his Painesville store he was attacked and stabbed nine times. God was with him then also and the only long term problems was a variety of scars. He was so well known and popular in Lake County that there wasn't enough room for all the flowers and he shared them with other patients. Carl was also very active with selling Amway at the time. He doesn't like to be bored! He loves children and has a son, three daughters, two stepsons and three stepdaughters. They are now spread throughout the country, with grand kids and great grand kids. Carl's dream would be to have a wheelchair accessible RV to travel and visit family and friends. Carl has had to put that off due to financial and medical problems. Within the last ten years he has gone from crutches to totally dependent on a wheelchair. The van he has now has a ramp that he has to pull in and out of the passenger side of the van due to size. Then he loads the chair into the van, puts the ramp back in and sits on a rolling walker and pushes himself around to the driver side, loads the walker into the van and climbs into the driver seat. This is a challenge for him due to severe bursitis and arthritis in both arms and a torn rotator cuff that was never repaired because he was using crutches at the time. His health has been declining the past few years. In 1995 he had a severe staph infection in his leg. He had back surgery and then has had two spinal fusions and two hip replacements on the left hip. Since the last spinal fusion in January of 2014 his leg muscles will not hold him up so he can no longer stand or walk. Despite these "inconveniences" as he calls them; he returned to his part time job at Penneys at the Midway Mall in Elyria. He started there three years ago as a "greeter" during the holidays. He developed a persona of one of Santa's helpers complete with a tie, necklaces and decorations on his wheelchair. He proved to be so popular Channel 3 news did an interview for the evening news show and The Morning Journal featured him on the front page of the Christmas Eve edition in 2011 and a follow-up the next year. His temporary job has lasted three years and now Carl and his chair can be found year round and in just about any department. Just follow the sound of people laughing and Carl will be there. Although some months he has only worked five hours Carl is happy to be with people and has become somewhat of a specialist in the Men's department and customers ask for him by name. The lack of income and Carl's wife's ill health (she is disabled by systemic lupus) has made it very difficult financially. Carl's last shop was called "That Sandwich Place." It was very popular with two locations in Lorain, Ohio. But Carl had to have Emergency back surgery in December 2004 so Jan and Carl had to close.they had to file Bankruptcy and they lost their life savings. Jan and Carl have both been in the hospital multiple times since then. They moved to Lagrange, OH, from Oberlin this fall. Carl works 8 hours a month recording the Oberlin city council and school board meetings but they needed to live in a smaller house. The home needs many repairs and adjustments to make it more accessible for the wheelchair. If there is any extra donated money after the new van they will use it on the house. Jan and Carl are thankful for the love and support of their friends and family. But they need financial help to get a van equipped for Carl's special needs.

Donations

  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 59 mos
  • Jean Richardson 
    • $20 
    • 63 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 68 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $35 
    • 68 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 68 mos
See all

Organizer

Jan Dort Whitesel 
Organizer
Lagrange, OH
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