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: [email redacted]
****IF YOU WOULD PREFER TO WRITE A CHECK AND MAKE AN OFFLINE DONATION, PLEASE EMAIL LIZ AT [email redacted] 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).
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