Grant For Accident Disabled Man To Start Handicap Fishing Nonprofit
by Richard Hicks
(Sebree, Kentucky, USA)
My name is Richard Hicks. I am 43 years old and I live in Sebree Kentucky. I married Jeannie Sheets on December 30th, 1995.
We have two beautiful children: my daughter Breean 13, born August 28th, 2000 and my son Ashton 9, born August 17th, 2004.
I worked in construction, as a carpenter for 15 years, building residential homes and barns. In 2004 I began installing satellite services. I did this for the next six years until the economy crashed.
On December 13, 1994 I was just outside of Denton Texas building homes. Not a Half hour into the day the scaffolding that had me perched 25 feet in the air collapsed.
I landed on a temporary sidewalk, a mere foot wide, crushing the heel on both feet. The impact broke my left foot into several pieces but the right heel shattered and severed the arch from itself.
After having reconstructive surgery, I was the proud owner of four pins and a plate in my left foot and five pins, a plate, and four very drawn up toes, with 3/4 being reconstructed using coral from the ocean.
Although I was told I would need to be on a cane for the rest of my life, I pushed through and within two years I was back building houses.
Then in September of 2011 I suffered the first of three strokes. The first two were ischemic and the latter was a TIA. The first scared me worse than anything I had ever experienced.
It left me with weakness and partial loss of mobility on my right side. At the same time I was diagnosed with COPD in both lungs and emphysema in the left lung.
I now have problems with reading comprehension, concentration issues, some hearing loss, tremors, a substantial limp, a stutter and an issue with gripping things. I went from being a people person to being too self-conscious to even go out in public.
After the first stroke I was no longer able to work. I was having trouble remembering what I was doing from one minute to the next. My speech had been impaired with a pretty serious stutter and I had trouble concentrating for an extended amount of time (a movie was out of the question).
Then, while I was at Church in March of 2012, the second stroke hit. I lost strength in both my right arm and leg almost immediately. My face started to droop on the right side.
The stuttering had almost completely disappeared, however, and my concentration had increased considerably (a true blessing in itself).
The TIA happened while I was watching the Super Bowl with friends on February 3, 2013. Simply put, my right arm began to draw up.
I now have trouble standing more than about 10 minutes at a time. I can't really get around outside very well because of the limited mobility in my right leg (I trip a lot LOL).
I have trouble simply taking a shower. Just getting my right leg in and out of the tub to take a shower, without falling, is a job in itself.
We don't have the means to get specialized equipment for the bathroom or to get anything to assist me with getting around outside of the house.
I take medications for the pain in my arm, legs, back and right shoulder. I use an emergency inhaler to combat the COPD and emphysema. My medications have been narrowed to a minimum to avoid the extra cost.
My wife has the desire to go to work but has been afraid to leave me alone for any extended amount of time in fear of me having a fall or another spell (as I like to call my strokes).
Work and money have become as distant to me as a tropical island is to the Antarctic.
We are now faced with the inevitable loss of our rental home, and no more income from me coming in.
I have been forced to sell almost everything my wife and I had acquired over our life together. We had to sell all the tools I had acquired as a Carpenter, items I had collected over the years and my wife's trinkets and treasures.
We sold the toys my wife had saved from her childhood to pass on to our children. We even sold parts of our vehicles to make ends meet.
We received assistance from our Church and multiple other charitable friends and family. We would gather and haul off scrap metal, or we collected cans… anything to make money!
In August of 2012, I was approved and given total disability status, and in October drew my first disability check. I now draw $1124 a month and am currently raising my family of four on this income. It just pays the bills.
Since I won't qualify for insurance until March of 2014, I am unable to receive any physical therapy. Visits to the doctor have to be paid up front or through a charity. Specialists are out of the question due to the high cost of just the visits.
After being in the workforce for 26 years and not having any leisure time for my family or myself because of working, I now found myself with an overwhelming abundance of time.
I'd like to be able to go to school functions for my kids and just be an all around better husband and father to my family.
I came to realize is that I could not do all the things I wanted to do. It was due to my physical limitations or the fact that I had to relearn how to do things I had done my whole life. Either way I had to start looking at things from a whole new perspective.
I first started with convincing my wife to let me go down to the riverbank and fish. I had to take her to the exact spot I was to fish so she could evaluate any and all dangers.
After a few attempts she finally gave me her blessing on the condition I take one of our children or a friend and a cell phone.
I went a couple of times myself because I couldn't find anyone that wanted to go with me. Plus I just needed to see if I could even still handle the rod and the fish.
The first time I took my son everything was going great until I decided to walk over and pick up a lure from the bank. I lost my footing on the slope of the bank and down I went. No injuries other than to my pride. I brushed it off.
Then the second time with my tail firmly planted in the seat I reached to grab my pole, which had a bite, and just as I pulled back on the rod the fish did as well.
With the limited grip and lack of complete control of the rod, I was punctured in the palm of my right hand by the point on the back of the rod for your finger to rest. After having stitches put in, and my son telling Mom of all the blood, my fishing days ended.
My next attempt at getting out was an attempt to go hunting for the first time. The first thing I realized is that it is a lot harder than just going to where the woods are and "POOF" the deer would just be hanging out waiting for me.
I could not find a living soul that wanted to take the time out of their deer season to take out a person with no experience hunting much less with a disability. Now I was faced with the fact that I would have to teach myself AND also that I would have to go by myself.
When I got to the woods I thought to myself, "Hmm, there sure is a lot of stuff lying around the ground in the woods." (LOL). This is something that had never even crossed my mind until that very moment.
Then there was the search for somewhere to hide from the deer but be close enough to see them. That didn't turn out well. It was like a bull in a China shop with trip wires everywhere.
I began searching for a group or organization that could assist and or guide me with fishing and hunting. What I found turned out to be frustrating to say the least.
All the fishing programs designed for the disabled are set up as one-day events or a one-time adventure. They would bring in the necessary equipment and have volunteers on staff to help the disabled person fish.
This is all wonderful, but I was looking for more a place to go on a regular rather than a place meet at to fish once a year.
When it comes to hunting the best you will find is a hunting lodge somewhere that will accommodate the disabled hunter but is mainly for your average healthy hunters. They charge between $1500 and $2500 to hunt till you get a deer. There is an additional charge per person if you need someone there to help with your needs. They call it a non-hunters fee.
Of course after seeing all this I became very discouraged. I instantly turned to my resident counselor for advice (my wife).
What she said to me on that day lit a fire inside me!! She simply said, "Well if you can't find a program like what you are looking for then maybe you should start one of your own. " Immediately, I was inspired by this opportunity!!
To make this dream of mine a reality, I know that it will take lots of hard work and determination, not to mention researching everything from land to equipment.
I am going to need help with:
*Land management advice
*Equipment For the disabled
*Supplies for fishing and hunting
*Equipment to help cultivate a healthy population of fish and wildlife.
*Wildlife research equipment (Cameras, Depth finders etc. )
*On site Medical advice
*Vehicles designed for the disabled.
**And all the advice I can get!**
I am looking to start a fishing and hunting organization for the disabled in my area. It would give the disabled a place to go if they want to fish or hunt every day.
All fishing will be on a catch and release system. All meat from hunts will be: (a) sent home with the hunter, (b) given to local food banks or (c) utilized by the organization to provide meals for participants and events.
It is my dream to see this organization come to light. I have seen too many boundaries standing in the way of those that are disabled to stand by and not take action.
By making this dream a reality I will be able to make a difference in the lives of countless others. As well, I'll be able to give this disabled husband and father an opportunity to lead by example.
I'll be able to show my children that no matter what difficulties life may throw your way, through hard work and determination you can overcome anything.