Almost 3 years ago, a man behind the wheel of a car who was twice over the legal limit and high on drugs ran a stop sign and slammed into the side of our vehicle. He murdered my mother, my father and my little brother, and left me a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. To really understand the pain of that evening, take a few moments to read my story at Gawker.
Me in the hospital.
It took weeks in the ICU and months of rehab, and although I will never be whole again, I was able to cobble the pieces together as best I could. But as I tried to restart my life, I encountered numerous roadblocks that I felt were unjust. A hospital bill well over $1 million. And although I was lucky to have insurance, there were still many costs such as deductibles not only on the bills themselves but also on individual items like my wheelchair. My health insurance carrier also tried to place liens on the small amount I received from my car insurance policy, which was the only money I ended up receiving since the drunk driver was broke.
But all of the insurance money and more had to be spent on making my surroundings accessible. Converting our car so that it has a ramp. Installing door openers on my house. Widening doorways so that I could get around. Building a roll-in shower. Voice-recognition software to use my computer. Modified eating equipment. The list goes on and on and the bills totaled higher and higher.
Me and my wife.
I was lucky though. My friends, family and community all came together and helped make it possible for me to be able to afford those things. But many people are not as lucky. They are expected to face these obstacles alone. Because someone acted irresponsibly and chose to drive impaired, the victim is expected to bear all of the pain and all of the costs. That's simply not fair.
So I am asking for your help. My goal is to start a nonprofit organization that is designed to help the victims of impaired driving. This organization will help these people to afford their medical and personal necessities. I want the organization to provide people with the same caring and support that I was lucky to have.
I am looking to raise $50,000 to start the Victims of Impaired Driving Project. This nonprofit will use a majority of the funds to assist those victims who have been injured by impaired driving. The organization will reach out to major hospitals and social services so that the victims of impaired driving are aware of our organization and the help we can provide. It will also seek to support new and inventive ways to prevent people from driving impaired. Lastly, the nonprofit will help to share my story with young people in hope that it will serve as a reminder of the consequences of impaired driving. Because of the costs associated with starting an organization and the high dollar amounts required to provide those medical and personal necessities, I felt that $50,000 would be the minimum needed. If the amount is not reached, your donation will be refunded.
If you can't afford to donate, there are other ways to help! You can share this fundraiser with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter to help get the word out. And if you are interested in volunteering, leave us a message and we will get in touch with you.
* Update 1 *
Hey everyone! We have recently submitted our application to the IRS for 501 approval. Once we are certified as a nonprofit, any donation made during this fundraiser will be tax-deductible since the certification is retroactive to the date the organization was incorporated (which was May 20, 2013). Receipts will be provided for donations over $250. Thanks everyone for your support!