OAKLANDON — Tim Leeson thought he’d be in the hospital for four weeks after heart and kidney transplants. His body said otherwise.
“While I was waiting, my heart crashed,” he said.
His kidneys followed suit, and the expected four weeks became six months.
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When he finally returned home, the cement steps down from the side of his house to the driveway were a challenge to navigate for Leeson and his wife, Penny. It was killing her back, he said.
Each month, a few more Hancock County area residents face health situations that place them in need of a home ramp, but finding someone to build it and affording the materials can be barriers that keep such a ramp from being built. Local churches and ministries are stepping forward and at times joining forces to help meet that need.
Leeson said his fellow church members from St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield showered him with cards, and many visited him, too. But when the Rev. Larry Gember asked what else the church might do to ease the Leesons’ burden, the idea of a wheelchair ramp took shape.
The timing of Leeson’s return home still was uncertain when some volunteers gathered at the Leeson home and built a wooden ramp. There’s a platform area on top of the formerly used steps (Leeson calls it a mini deck), with a slope connecting it to the driveway. Leeson could navigate it much more easily with a walker and with the cane he’s using now. With the transplants still on the horizon, the ramp continues to promise greater ease of mobility.
“They did a fabulous, fabulous job,” Leeson said. “I can’t thank them enough for what they did.”
Jim Peters, executive director of Love INC of Greater Hancock County, said calls to the Christian clearinghouse ministry about ramps have slowed somewhat, perhaps because of the holidays and winter weather. Still, recently a ramp call came after a referral from Hancock Regional Hospital.
You can support the building of wheelchair ramps by donating money or by serving on a build team.
-Donations: Jim Peters, executive director of Love INC, said social media appeals have yielded some donations to pay for lumber and hardware, but more are needed.
-Volunteering: Those interested in helping build a ramp are also encouraged to call or email. Peters said Love INC keeps a database of what types of work volunteers prefer, and it can use that information to group construction-knowledgeable volunteers with teammates who are perhaps unskilled but still willing to help.
You can reach Love INC at 317-468-6300 or loveinc-ghc.org.