By KEVIN HOWELL
A local organization is stepping up to help a United Local graduate walk down the aisle at her wedding in September.
The Goshen-Butler Community Fund recently donated $3,000 to assist 2008 United Local alumna Alissa Boyle, paralyzed from the waist down, in purchasing a “stretch machine” to assist in her goal of walking down the aisle and standing to recite her vows at her wedding Sept. 7. From left, President Walt Lautzenheiser, Treasurer Keith Martig, Alissa Boyle and mother Lori Boyle. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)
The Goshen-Butler Community Fund recently donated $3,000 to assist 2008 alumna Alissa Boyle, paralyzed from the waist down, in purchasing a "stretch machine," which stretches out the leg muscles and tendons that shorten due to sitting in her wheelchair and increases circulation in her legs.
In February 2012 Boyle, who was set to graduate from the nursing program at Waynesburg University that May, jumped from an overpass on Interstate 79 in Pennsylvania, falling over 40 feet, to avoid being struck by oncoming traffic while assisting a man injured in a crash. She is now paralyzed from the waist down, but completed her studies and is hoping to eventually walk with the use of a cane.
Currently she is working to walk down the aisle and stand to recite her vows with her prospective bridegroom, Nathan Grimes, at Trinity Friends Church in Lisbon on Sept. 7.
"[The community fund] members were so impressed with her story, her having gotten her nursing degree completed, her enthusiasm in working to get back to her life," said Treasurer Keith Martig. "We said we really want to do within reason whatever we can to get this equipment for her."
The piece of physical therapy equipment, selected with consultation from her therapists, allows Boyle to exercise without one of her parents to participate in each move. She said she has been using the machine three or four times a day for a little over a week when typically she was only able to complete the standing exercise once or twice a month at therapy.
Boyle said the gift has already made a big difference in how she feels, both physically and mentally.
"I can definitely feel a difference (physically)," she said. "And it's nice to be able to stand and talk to people. I can look my dad in the eyes again instead of always looking up at him."
"I love it," she added emphatically.
Martig said the 15-member community fund gave the Boyle family a gas card a year ago for traveling expenses and a recent chance encounter at a grocery store reignited discussions about what could be done to help.
The graciousness is not lost on Boyle.
"It's amazing. I wouldn't have been able to get [the machine] without [the help]," she said.
The community fund will hold its annual fund drive next month to generate money to support project such as this. Residents should watch the mail for their chance to donate.
Jamie's Dream Team: Boyle's story is reaching farther than just the local area.
Jamie's Dream Team, a non-profit organization out of Pittsburgh, has recruited several local wedding vendors to make Boyle's dream wedding come true, including a reception at Avion on the Water, a horse and carriage from Best Horse Drawn Carriage Service and even a photo booth from I-Spy Photo Booth LLC. The organization is also provided an all-expense-paid honeymoon for the newlywed couple.
"For her to give up walking and doing just the normal things in life by helping a stranger, we had to help her," said Kim Shidel of the organization in a written release.