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Rick R. "My Life Changed Forever At Age 9"

“I was returning from an errand; riding my bicycle I saw my 3-year-old sister Rosalyn pedaling hard past the boundary point of our driveway. There was a pickup truck coming down the street and I wanted to get across the street to block my sister from the path of this truck. I would have made it except my pant leg got caught in the chain of my bike, leaving me in the middle of the street. The truck hit me, threw me in the air and I landed flat on my parent’s stone driveway. That was the last thing I remembered. I later found out that I was placed in a medically induced coma, I was having seizures every day. The doctors were trying to discover what medication was going to control the seizures. I also found out that 350 students were praying for me. Never underestimate the power of prayer. 18 days later I came out of the medically induced coma. However, I found myself very weak/paralyzed on my left side. There was no Physical/Occupational Therapy. I had to learn to dress myself, do bed mobility, transfers and ambulation all on my own. The Doctors told me and my parents that “I would finish grade school, high school would be difficult, forget college, save your money, you will never make it through graduation. I will never drive a car because of partial blindness in my eyes.”

Doctors also said “I needed to stop ALL sporting activities; if a ping pong ball hit the same area of the head  it would kill me.” That meant no more baseball, the one sport I really enjoyed. Long lasting relationships like marriage are not likely to be a reality. Pretty dismal outlook on my life.


The following September I was in fourth grade, scary because I could not recall much of what I supposedly learned the first 3 years of school. Not only was I on strong drugs to control my seizures (made me sleepy) attention span was not present. The teacher often found me sleeping/daydreaming. I graduated from St. Mary’s Elementary School in 1965. In September I went to Williamsville Central High School where I took all the required courses English, Math, History and Woodworking which I really enjoyed. Especially Woodworking. I did struggle in the high school years but did graduate in June of 1968.


Have you ever noticed that John 10:10 has a negative portion followed by Jesus saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”?


After graduation I started a job working for Wangler Electric as a stock Clerk. I became a member of the CYAC Christian Young Adults Club, that is where I met my wife, Patty. In 1971, after losing three close friends all in a very short period, I decided to go on a men’s retreat. It was at this retreat I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. As I began to study God’s Word, I came across a Scripture that I held fast onto. Luke 18:27  “What seems impossible to man is possible to God.” In 1972 Eastern Hills Mall opened. Got hired as Christmas help as a stock clerk at AMA’S. I was later promoted to work in the furniture department at the Peirce Arrow Warehouse. I started dating Patty in 1974. By this time, we had been friends for years. Bowling, dancing, road rallies are but a few things we did together. Despite what the doctors said, I got my driver’s permit, took driving lessons and passed my road test. I have been driving ever since. My Father-in-law said if you are going to marry my daughter, you are going back to college. Accounting pays well. There was a program available at the time that paid my tuition, books and transportation. I just needed to maintain a C or higher academic average throughout the two and a half years of schooling at Bryant Stratton Business Institute. I Graduated in June of 1978.


Patty and I got married on the 4th of July 1975. 47 years ago. We used to be known as Abraham and Sarah because we were told we wouldn’t be able to conceive and go through a normal pregnancy. We tried to go through an adoption agency; that did not work. On a Sunday, it was Mother’s Day, the pastor called all women who wanted to start a family to come forward. The pastor asked each woman to lay their hand over their stomach. Pastor Dan placed his hands over Patty's hand and prayed that she would become pregnant. Before she became pregnant there would be one more step to go through first. Patty went through a surgery on her thyroid sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s. Something I learned much later was that the thyroid acts as a woman's third ovary; it was able to produce the necessary hormones to become pregnant. Mary Cate was born May 30th, 1991. Three years later Grace Marie was born September 25th, 1994. Two miracles man kept saying was impossible, but with God all things are.


Back in 1988, Patty and I went to a Bill Gothard Seminar in Rochester, NY. It was there we learned about the different spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. I learned that my gifts were service and help. It was then I decided to use these gifts in my daily walk with the Lord. A local nursing home was providing paid training to become a Certified Nurse’s Aide. I loved utilizing my spiritual gifts daily with each person I cared for. I felt a peace that surpasses all understanding. I enjoyed this so much I decided to go back to college again. A Physical Therapist told me about a program that was opening in September of 1990 at NCCC called the Physical Therapy Assistant program. Don told me that I needed to take an entrance exam first. I did and I was accepted into the program. A scripture I held onto throughout College was Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Again, my tuition, books, transportation and meals were paid for as long as I maintained a C average throughout the academic 3 ½ years of training. I had been away from college for quite some time, so I took some college prep courses before starting the PTA program.  I graduated in May of 1993 with an AOS degree in Applied Science. I was able to work at UCPA of WNY. I also worked at various Nursing Homes in the area.


In 2004, I started working at Fillmore Suburban Hospital in the morning and in the afternoon, I worked at DeGraff Memorial. In late 2005 I was placed on full-time status at DeGraff Memorial Skilled Nursing Facility. This meant that I would have full healthcare benefits. It was a huge blessing from God because in the following year (2006) I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The grand total of the chemo treatments came to over $100,000. Thank God for health insurance. As you can tell through God’s grace, I am a cancer survivor. 


During that same year my mom was a patient at DeGraff SNF. I was invited to the family discharge planning meeting. The Therapist had it all planned out on paper that my mom was to be placed in a nursing home. My mom lacked the ability to complete a stand-pivot on her good leg and sit into a wheelchair. It happened to be one of my good days. Mom and I performed a perfect SPS into the wheelchair. Mom was asked by the therapist, “why couldn’t you do this for me? Mom replied,” You’re not my son.” There were many more times that my mom/dad needed instruction to be assisted in their continuing activity of daily living. Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease. He experienced leg cramps while sleeping at night, he wanted to know a series of exercises to do to prevent the cramps. Dad decided to walk with mom’s quad cane. Which was about 4 inches too short for him. Once adjusted to his height he noticed he was standing up straighter. I was cleared to returned to work in January of 2007.


Throughout my career and even to this day; when faced with a difficult situation I would call upon the Holy Spirit to give me an answer on how to handle this difficult situation. He always answers me. Sometimes in my dreams (videos, or in a word). Many times, I would be faced with people who would tell me three words; I can’t, I won’t, and I don’t. They have been telling themselves this for a very long time. I used to think to myself, this sounds like a perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. One day the Holy Spirit told me the following: Tell them they need to change their vocabulary. Replace the negatives with positives. “I can, I will, I must” if you want to be discharged home. Otherwise, you will be permanently placed in a nursing home. For most people, this motivation technique worked.


For 22 years I walked hand in hand with the Holy Spirit utilizing my gifts of helps and service. And I must say even though I am retired as a PTA, I am still using these gifts now and until I go and meet my protector, provider and Godly inspiration."

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