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This fundraiser ended on 08/31/10

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Sandra Beazley's son, Matthew, was left paralyzed from the neck down after sustaining a spinal cord injury during a tragic car accident just a few months after graduating from high school. To help them at home and for trips to therapy, they need...

One of my Fluvanna County (VA) High School classmates, Sandra (Dudley) Beazley of Palmyra, VA, recently reached out for help through her Facebook page for her 19-year-old son, Matthew. In August 2009 just a few months after graduating from high school, Matthew was involved in a car accident and because of a spinal cord injury he was left paralyzed from the neck down--a quadriplegic. Sandra, a divorced and single parent with limited income, was unable to afford in-home care for her son after his return home from treatment at four different hospitals. She found it necessary to leave her job to stay home and care for Matthew 24/7. They do not have insurance and are dependent on whatever medical services and supplies can be provided through Medicaid. Their primary sources of support are Social Security and food stamps. Sandra would like to find some work she can do from home to supplement their income while still being able to care for Matthew. In the meantime, her family and church rallied to her support early on and helped raise some initial funds.  A used van was purchased thanks to the family's car show benefit, and an elevator lift and computer for Matthew were purchased from the church fundraiser. Now Matthew's needs extend beyond those items and this fundraising initiative has been coordinated with the hope of acquiring some items that will make Matthew's life more comfortable and enjoyable and Sandra’s life as a mother and caregiver a little less hectic…

  • A few weeks ago, they were without power for 18 hours when a storm hit Charlottesville. Without a backup power source, Matthew started getting pressure sore marks from laying in a deflated bed and Sandra was unable to run the feeding pump or wheelchair elevator . . . They need a small house generator.
  • During the early months after Matthew's accident, they used all their funds to purchase a used wheelchair accessible van. Unfortunately, it had seen its useful days already, and the lift keeps breaking down. Additionally, there is no a/c or heat in the back where Matthew has to sit.  Right now they have to rely on other transportation to take Matthew to the doctor or therapy . . . They need a good used van to replace the clunker.
  • Because of their multi-level home, Matthew is confined to the main floor of the house where his bed is in the living room. Their home is not equipped with a bathroom shower to accommodate Matthew’s wheelchair. They need a portable shower that Sandra can put up and take down in the kitchen. Also, the carpet has been ruined in the living room from spilling medical stuff and bringing the wheelchair in with mud on the wheels. Another big problem is that Sandra can't roll or lift the bed on the carpet - they need to put down wood flooring.
  • To help relieve the cramped quarters, a deck expansion would make it possible for Matthew and Sandra to have family gatherings and enjoy the outdoors! While outside Matthew also needs a sun/rain cover for his wheelchair.
  • Finally, to read, surf the web, or communicate with friends online, Matthew is dependent on Sandra to serve as his “secretary” between all the other critical things she does around the clock. (She could use a little break!) Matthew needs to get eye glasses to replace the ones that were broken during the accident. There is also some fantastic technology available to allow Matthew to independently turn the lights on, make phone calls, and access and use his computer whenever he wants!

I had hoped there would be organizations or individual grants I could find to help Sandra and Matthew obtain these items, but I quickly learned why funding is limited. At the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation web site, I read the statistics there are nearly 1 in 50 people living with paralysis and roughly 25% of households with a paralyzed family member make less than $10,000 per year, compared with only 7% of households in the general population. In addition, as of 2009, spinal cord injury (Matthew’s issue) is more prevalent than previously estimated. Data indicates that 1,275,000 people in the U.S. are living with spinal cord injury—more than five times the number of Americans previously estimated in 2007 (255,702). These and other alarming findings have shed light on the health care costs associated with treating spinal cord and paralysis-related diseases. Fortunately, it is because of this growing reality that money is prioritized for programs that will advance the science of treating the health care needs of these patients. Organizations like the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation are putting money into research for a cure of spinal cord injuries and programs that work on improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through rehabilitation centers.

Next to accidents in the workplace, motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Sporting/recreation accidents, like Christopher Reeve’s final horse jump, are the third leading cause. Generations ago, someone paralyzed would be confined to an institution. Today, because of the advances in rehabilitation, technology, surgery, medicine, and innovations in product design and engineering, more and more individuals are able to live at home. People living with paralysis have more hope now than ever before… However, it’s expensive! Fundraising is still the chief means that families have to resort to for the extra things they need that will make life at home more comfortable and fulfilling for their paralyzed family member.

As a mother of a healthy and active son, my heart goes out to Sandra and the sacrifices she’s making to give Matthew the best possible quality of life she can with the financial burdens and physical demands that come in providing just the basic necessities. And for Matthew, a young man who has endured both physical and emotional trauma, I want him to have the opportunity to enjoy and share a meaningful life utilizing these advances in technology that now make it possible.

It is for this reason, at the very least, I hope you will join me in keeping this family in your prayers and helping them to lead a comfortable life in their own home.

Linda M. Layne

P.S. All funds go direct to Sandra and Matthew. Please respond to the wish list items directly if you have items or services to donate in lieu of funds. Any and all help would be appreciated!

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