BOLINGBROKE -- When Rose Center and her daughter Pamela Shivers read about the plight of Jesse Faust, they knew they could step up and help.
They read how Faust had been in an accident with a truck while riding his motorized wheelchair to return his dog, Lady, to the kennel where she sleeps. The accident, which knocked Faust into a ditch along U.S. 41, forced him to spend several days in a hospital bed hooked up to life support. When Faust got out of the hospital, the driver’s insurance company wouldn’t pay to fix the damage to the chair, he said.
On Wednesday, Faust received a new wheelchair, thanks to Center, Shivers, members of the First Presbyterian Day School football team and others.
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After reading a recent AC Pup column about Faust in The Telegraph, Shivers contacted the 59-year-old to see if he would be interested in a motorized wheelchair owned by her stepfather, Emory Center, but never used.
“We knew we had a chair ... so we asked (my stepfather) if we could donate it,” Shivers said. “It was just like new.”
Faust suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him partially paralyzed on his left side. His lone companion has been Lady, a 4-year-old golden Labrador retriever that Faust considers his only family.
But since Faust moved into the Whispering Pines assisted living facility in Bolingbroke, he’s unable to keep Lady there. He made an arrangement with the no-kill animal shelter Save-a-Pet, located about a mile away on U.S. 41, to house Lady at night. Each day he would ride his wheelchair to fetch her so she could visit with him and other Whispering Pines residents.
On April 16, Faust and Lady were heading back to the kennel when a truck appeared out of nowhere and knocked him from his chair into a ditch. The wheelchair’s battery was damaged and would no longer hold a charge, and the armrest on the left side -- the same side affected by his stroke -- was bent beyond repair.
“We were walking off the road and I saw nothing coming,” he said. “All of a sudden -- boom! -- and it just knocked me out.”
Faust said the next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital bed. He was there for several days before being allowed to return home.
Faust said he had seen the truck that struck him drive fast along U.S. 41 before. However, he said, no one from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office contacted him to get his version of events. They only spoken with the driver, he said.
An attempt to reach officials with the sheriff’s office Wednesday was unsuccessful.
Patti Jones, chairwoman of Central Georgia CARES animal advocacy group, knew about Faust’s situation. While she was retelling his story at the First Presbyterian Day School bookstore, Dessie Merriweather -- the team mom for the FPD football team -- heard what happened. When Jones said she needed help getting the new wheelchair to Faust, Merriweather immediately volunteered to get help from the school’s football players.
A half-dozen players were there Wednesday to help unload the wheelchair from Jones’ truck and set it up for Faust. His first test drive brought a big smile to his face -- and to the faces of those who helped him out.
“Most of us live around here, and we had heard about what happened,” said Will Black, a senior at FPD. “We were affected by it. ... Really, we feel very good about it.”
Center said she’s happy to be able to help someone in need
“We knew this would make somebody happy,” Center said of the chair she and her daughter donated. “Just looking at his face makes me happy.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.