Man adjusts to life change

Published: January 21, 2009  |  Source: scntx.com
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A Sunday afternoon bike ride last Father’s day dramatically changed the life of Joe Groh forever.

While riding in Grapevine, Groh came around a curve and lost control of his bike on some loose sand.

“I lost control and went over the top of the handle bars,” Groh said. “When I came to, I pretty much suspected right away what had happened because I couldn’t move.”

Groh was found lying on the ground by a jogger and his daughter, who flagged down a car to get a cell phone.

After the crash, Groh spent two weeks at Parkland Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit and then another week in a regular room after he came out of ICU. He spent a month a Baylor doing rehabilitation.

“There has been a huge change in the family,” Joe said. “In the daily life that goes on, the daily work load has increased because of me and there are fewer people to do it.”

Joe is a husband and father of three children, ages 23, 20 and 16.

The change that has taken place since last June has not only been in Joe’s life, but also in the lives of his family. One of his sons left Abilene Christian University and his spot on their football team to come home and help his family. He now attends the University of North Texas.

Joe’s wife, Sue, now works from home fulltime so that she is able to help care for her husband.

Joe might not be where he is today without the love and support of his generous family and help from others.

While in the hospital, the Groh’s neighbor told the Joey Wilkins Foundation about his accident and when he arrived home from the hospital the non-profit group came to his house and made it more wheelchair friendly. They widened doorways, put a ramp at the front door and garage and also made the bathroom handicap accessible.

There is problem that the Groh’s have started to face that doesn’t seem to be improving much. Money.

According to the Spinal Cord Injury Information Network http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=116979) an injury at the place on the spine where Joe’s is costs roughly $775,567 the first year and $138,923 for each subsequent year.

Things such as Joe’s power wheelchair can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 and according to Sue there are a lot of things, such as Joe’s wheelchair, that Medicare considers medically unnecessary and doesn’t cover financially.

To help cover some of these constant costs, the girls varsity basketball team is having a fundraiser for the Groh family.

“I feel really blessed to know that so many people care about me and my family,” varsity player and Joe’s daughter, Christi, said. “And to know that so many people are helping out is a great feeling.”

The Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks will be playing an exhibition after the girls game Jan. 30 to help with the effort.

Basketball parent and family friend Linda Chandler has helped to organize the fundraiser. She said that the team has a fundraiser every year and this year they have a chance to help one of their own teammates with their efforts.

Chandler said when she contacted the wheelchair Mavericks that they were more than willing to help with the event.

“Yes, they play basketball for titles but they are also very involved in the community,” Chandler said.

The Mavericks have a spokesperson that will tell some of their stories and then the players will have a 15-minute exhibition game.

“During the time that the boys are playing, the girls will be walking through the crowd and passing the plate,” Chandler said. “I would love to raise $10,000, but that is just a number. We will see how this does and just be grateful for what it brings in.”

All money collected in the plate, plus all of the gate sales for the night, will go toward the family’s medical costs. In addition, the crowd will also have a chance to buy raffle tickets for an electric child’s car.

The child’s toy was donated by REB Photo and received a makeover wrap to be a Dragon car. The car will be present at all boys basketball games for people to see. It will be raffled off at the Feb. 6 game with all the proceeds also going toward the family.

Despite all that Joe has been through, he wants to use his experience to raise awareness of spinal cord injury. He has his own website (www.joegrohscifund.org) where his story is told and facts can be found about the injury. He is also collecting funds and hopes to become a non-profit and be able to help others in the same situation.

The girl’s basketball fundraiser will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 30.

BY CHRISTINA ROWLAND/ Staff Writer
Star Community Newspapers