When Oxford resident Marcie Gruenberg reached out to The Guiding Star Foundation for help obtaining a wheelchair ramp for her brother-in-law Mitch Gruenberg, who recently had both legs amputated, the organization didn’t hesitate to help.
Mitch, a lifelong Oxford resident, was initially paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident around 30 years ago.
He has been wheelchair-bound since that accident, according to Marcie, and had both legs amputated around a year ago.
He currently resides with his brother, Chris Gruenberg and Chris’ wife, Marcie, at their home in Oxford.
To make matters even more challenging, Marcie said the family realized that they desperately needed to replace the home’s 30-year-old wheelchair ramp, which Mitch used to get in and out of the home.
With Mitch and Marcie both being on disability, Marcie said the replacement of the ramp was “just not an option” for the family.
“I was getting concerned. I didn’t know what to do. My husband and I just didn’t have the cash to replace it,” Marcie said.
Last week, the Gruenbergs had their prayers answered when the Grand Blanc-based nonprofit organization The Guiding Star Foundation completely replaced the aging wheelchair ramp – making it safer and easier for Mitch to get in and out of their home.
The Guiding Star Foundation provides financial assistance to under-insured individuals with physical disabilities.
Although Mitch hasn’t yet been able to make it outside to view the ramp in person, he has been impressed by the photos he’s seen so far.
“It looks wonderful,” Mitch said. “The old one was falling apart. They’d take me up and down on a stretcher for an ambulance to go to doctor appointments and they’d have to stop halfway down to get over the boards that were falling out of it. It was starting to rot since it had been there for 30 years.”
Marcie said she’s grateful to The Guiding Star Foundation and to former Michigan State Senator Mat Dunaskiss, who helped connect the Gruenberg family with the organization.
“The old wheelchair ramp was starting to get weak in places and wasn’t really safe,” said Marcie. “The boards were starting to pop up and warp . . . We’re so grateful. This has brought us so much stability, knowing that Mitch can get into and out of the house.”
For the last eight years, as he has undergone numerous surgeries, Mitch said he has been bedridden.
As he recovers, he hopes to become more mobile and eventually be able to leave the house whenever he wants or needs to.
Guiding Star Foundation President Sophia Bong said the organization is also looking to get Mitch in touch with an organization that could ultimately help him make that goal a reality.
“The first thing we wanted (for Mitch and his family) is for them to be able to get Mitch in and out of the house safely in case of emergency,” Bong said “The long-term goal is we want them to be able to get him in and out of the house regularly and not just in emergencies . . . We’re trying to contact some organizations that might possibly (provide) in-home physical therapy for him, so he can be in a more physically fit condition to be able to go outside and be more active on a regular basis.”
The 12-by-10 foot ramp (complete with a front dog door and steps for the family’s two dogs) was built by Davisburg-based Great Lakes Remodeling for about $6,000.
The total cost was covered by The Guiding Star Foundation and the ramp took two weeks to build.
Bong said donations to the foundation can be made by calling (810) 344-9810 or by attending the an Aug. 17 golf outing and dinner fund-raiser, which will be held at the Captain’s Club at Woodfield in Grand Blanc.