Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.
A new set of wheels would give a disabled Medford man the independence and mobility he craves after the setback of a stroke.
Residing in a Medford group home, the man navigated his neighborhood in a golf cart, making friends and expanding his horizons. That was before a stroke landed him in a local hospital for a long time. After making a partial recovery, he had to move to a new home equipped to meet all his medical needs.
The transition was difficult, and the man, a 57-year-old client of Living Opportunities, became sad and depressed. Although he cooperated with the requirements of his care, he did not respond to any other attempts at interaction.
Then one day, a member of the staff accidentally tripped and spilled a glass of water, exclaiming, "Oh, maaaannnn!" It was the first time the resident had smiled, so his caregivers decided to cheer him up by purposely tripping or goofing up. One day, the man laughed.
Happiness had so long eluded the man, born with significant intellectual and developmental impairments. At age 3, he was abandoned at the state institution in Salem, where he lived for nearly 30 years before moving to the Rogue Valley.
As the man made real, playful, human connections in his new environment, he made physical strides following the stroke. He could hold his cup, then sit up. After a month, he could get out of bed and sit on the front porch. Seeing his golf cart, he took his first steps in months, got in the cart, bounced up and down in the seat and laughed, tears of joy streaming down his face.
His first spin around the neighborhood sparked new friendships, and the man's physical strength continued to improve with each tour. But the trips became less frequent as the cart showed its age. Refurbishing it would require four new wheels and tires, two weatherproof batteries and a new paint job.
If you can help this man get rolling again, please call Rachel Rawlins at 541-772-1503.
Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.