Help Dominick Get Back His Freedom
My name is Ashtyn and that's my boyfriend, and best friend, Dominick in the middle of the above photo. The photo was taken at the NY Comic Con panel that he moderated on Disability Representations in the Media. It was also the last time he left the house. The panel (for reference) was held in October 2015.
I am re-writing this to better reflect the current situation. When this campaign started, Dominick was completely trapped. He was unable to get out of bed between November 2015 and April 2016 due to systemic failures by Medicare, DME companies, and a system that makes disabled people fight tirelessly for the things they need. At the time, he desperately needed both a new wheelchair and a new lift that gets him out of bed.
Thanks to all of you, by April, Dominick had his new LIFT! It has been one of the most amazing things for him, and we are so grateful to everyone. However, his wheelchair remains broken, limiting him to staying inside our apartment. Even when approved, certain parts of his wheelchair he needed to funtion are not going to be approved by Medicare or Medicaid. Because his needs have changed (his disability is progressive, and being trapped in bed made him much weaker). We need to get Dominick to $20K to pay for the rest of his wheelchair! With the lift, and money taken out by Go Fund Me, the lift cost around $8000. Dominick also paid $3000 raised to the wheelchair company for a few parts he needed ordered, but his biggest needs, including recline (to prevent pressure sores) are still not paid for at this time.
The good news is, as of Aug 2016, Dominick's wheelchair has JUST been approved by Medicare, (which pays part of the chair) so now we, more than ever need to make sure Dominick can get the chair he needs to support him! Please donate and help, if you can.
Thanks to Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Sean Maloney's offices for helping fight for Dominick!
Why should you care?
I'd like to think you care because Dominick is a person and that's enough, but I know how many of these funds there are, so let me tell you about Dominick.
I've known Dominick since 1999 and we have lived together since 2002. In 2002, he was in college and heading towards a degree in Theatre. He got hurt after a fall from his shower-chair and had to drop out of college. The injury, which was given the option of surgery with unknown results or waiting it out in bed, caused Dominick to spend close to seven years almost exclusively in bed. He forced himself up and out of bed to go back to school in the area we lived. Dealing with massive pain and the non-accessibility of the school he was attending, he decided to move to Ohio and start over in Film School. Dominick got up to go to class and often spent his off days in bed, to recover. Despite the rigorous demands placed on him, he never asked for accommodations and he graduated in 2015. Dominick was the first person with a significant disability (or a physical disability) to graduate with a BFA in Motion Pictures Production in this program.
Since then we have moved to New York to persue Dominick's interest in film. He was able to participate in a 48-hour film festival with a film he directed and has attended Comic Con for the panel that he moderated, but for the most part he has remained in bed and it has gotten to the point where without new equipment he is unable to get out of bed without doing his body irreperable damage.
From bed, Dominick does more work than you can imagine. He works as a freelance writer and runs his blog where he discusses life as a minority, and he sheds light on issues pertainent to the LGBT, disability, and film communities. He is an activist for the LGBT, disabled, and other minority communities, working on various political committies to improve the lives of people and to foster independence even when he's unable to enjoy his own.
Always the person to assume that someone else has it worse, Dominick hesitated when I suggested the idea that I should make this GoFundMe, because he believed that other people would need help more. I convinced him it was worth a try, with the promise that we would pay it forward, and if we made more than our goal, or were able to get the things that he needed, that we would pass it on whenever we could.
Dominick spends so much of his time offering assistance, activism, and care to friends and strangers that need him. He gives anything and everything he can. Now Dominick needs you.
So, What does Dominick really Need?
Here is the lift he purchased thanks to all of you:
My brother putting together Dom's lift.
The wheelchair that Dominick needs costs over $25,000.00 when you add in the additional options he needs like recline and tilt, which allow him to comfortably adjust his position and to take pressure off various parts of his body.
This is the wheelchair that has been approved and will be modified to meet Dominick's needs:
Anything you can do to help Dominick is appreciated whether it's $1 or $100. Anything you can give will lead him closer to his goal to becoming a more productive member of society.
Dominick has so much to give, but the reality is that it's tough to make a difference in the world from bed. Help him get up and around. Dominick needs you!
Thank you for considering helping him. Just the thought means more than you know.
If you want to give, but can't afford anything, please consider sharing this on your social media channels. You never know who might be able to help. Sharing this and ensuring it gets to the most people possible will help us reach this goal!
It took me over a month to find a place that would even work with me, even with me saying I was paying out-of-pocket. Finally, one company said they would help, but because of how Ohio runs insurance for durable medical equipment, they can't even bother to try to charge my insurance. I mean I figured I would have to pay out-of-pocket, hence this fundraiser, but the fact that they won't even try is just ridiculous, because my insurance should be paying.
Anyhow, guess what just came in the mail today direct from the company that makes the cushion? It needs to charge so I was not able to try it out today, but I want to thank you all again and let you know I have not forgot about any of you!
My footplates are finally being ordered, although I was told to be patient, because it may take a few weeks or more. I figure I've been patient all this time I can keep going, although it is getting harder to do so! I have spent over two years being trapped in my house now, except for once every four or five months forcing myself with my broken Wheelchair out to the doctor!
Needless to say I am ready to get out and about! It will happen this year! I just have no idea when!
Thank you again! I will be in touch soon, with more updates! You are the best!
DOMINICK'S WHEELCHAIR WILL BE FIXED!!!!
Just a little more to go, and thank you to the many many wonderful people who have donated! I love you and am grateful for all of you! You have given me so much hope, and have made me believe again that people really care! <3 <3 <3
If you have it in you to share one more time, so I can make my goal, I would be forever indebted!
Dominick (and Ashtyn)
I know it has been a little while since an update. In that time, we returned to the Midwest. It was too expensive to keep living in the NY area, when I was unable to take work opportunities in the city since I have still been trapped in my home. The move was difficult because my chair is still not functional.
We had to keep me pretty high on my pain meds to get me through the drive to our new home. I also had to put about 10 lbs of blankets and pillows under my legs to support them in my not completed wheelchair. The DME company was supposed to provide me with footplates before I left New York, but they didn't. They wanted me to pay money for everything, instead of charging my insurance, because they make more that way, and they knew I could not go anywhere without the footplates.
Anyhow, I am still spending most of my time in bed without having enough for my new cushion (every time I sit in my wheelchair with the cushion they gave me (which I and my PT both told them was wrong, and told them not to submit to for Medicare - but they did anyway) I get red and sore spots on the back of my rear end and legs. I am high risk for pressure sores so I have to spend days in bed until the spots disappear.
I just need to raise a little bit more, and then I can afford both the footplates and the cushion for my chair. I thank everyone for sharing and donating! I know freedom in close by. I am also heavily involved in physical therapy to get my body in shape after being trapped in bed for a year. I need to be limber enough, so I can sit in my new wheelchair with minimum pain. It's been over a year and my muscles and tendons have not appreciated the lack of movement. I am making good strides with PT!
I hope you all have a happy new year!
Unfortunately, where specialist medical services are involved, things do take time, even here in the UK where insurance is not an issue. I'm shocked that there are so many barriers to you getting what you need though; it needs more than just the generosity of friends, it needs less bureaucracy and red tape! I'm so sorry that you've been housebound for so long, and amazed that you've kept your sanity and resolve this long. I wish you all the very best; the world needs more people like you, Dominick! x
This just sucks so much for you. :( Sharing again and wishing you well.