Local family asks for help with handicapped accessibility
A Bradford family’s prayers have fallen just short of being answered and they are hoping maybe someone in the community can help.
Nancy Newkirk explained Monday that her husband Greg, 42, is disabled, afflicted with RSD — reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The veins in his legs are thinning, causing him to pass out randomly from standing or from exerting himself.
Because of that, he is wheelchair bound. With the Pennsylvania Access Card, he qualifies for a power wheelchair.
“On Thursday, they brought the power chair for him to make sure it was accessible all through the house,” she explained.
But there’s a catch.
“There’s a condition on the contract that we have to have a ramp to the house and a ramp to the van or they won’t deliver the chair,” Newkirk said. “We can’t have it.”
She explained that Greg was injured a few years back in an accident at Bradford Electronics, a now-defunct business.
“He crushed both of his feet,” Nancy Newkirk said. After that, he worked as an assistant manager at Wal-Mart until his disease progressed to the point that he was no longer able to work.
“Because of him passing out, I can’t work,” she said, explaining his neurologist won’t permit him to be unsupervised because of the risk of injury associated with him losing consciousness. “He’s passed out 82 times in almost two years. He needs the power chair to get around on a daily basis.”
She described the scene at their rented home on Wildwood Avenue last week when the power wheelchair was there for Greg Newkirk’s use. Greg Newkirk and the couple’s 8-year-old son Cody went outside to try it out on the road — and they had a race.
“My son said ‘Dad, race me to the steps’ and he won,” Nancy Newkirk described. But then Cody went back to the house, sat down on the steps and started to cry.
“He looked at the guy who brought (the power wheelchair) and said, ‘you made my dream come true. I got to run with my dad.’”
Newkirk said that made it even harder when the man packed up the power wheelchair and left with it.
She explained that the family of three has a monthly income of just over $1,000 — nearly half of which goes for rent. She has permission from the landlord to install a ramp, but has no money to do so.
“Several people have offered low-interest loans,” she said. “I can’t do that. I don’t have the money. I don’t know what to do.
“I’ve called senators’ offices. I’ve called the Red Cross. I’ve called Life and Independence For Today,” she said. There’s waiting lists or stumbling blocks at each avenue she’s tried.
“You don’t know how embarrassed I am to ask for this help. I hate feeling like a charity case, I’m just in a desperate situation,” she said.
“I’m tough,” Newkirk added, her voice welling with emotion. She is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Her former husband was prosecuted for assaulting her; she survived a house fire; she went back to college and worked her way through, she explained. “I’m a survivor, but there comes a point …”
RSD is a chronic pain condition believed to be the result of a dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.