Jeff Green | May 18, 2006
Feature Article - May 11, 2006
Back toHomeFeature Article - May 11, 2006
Jeff Grice:Back inMotionCampaign
For Jeff Grice, the Ides of March came two days early in 2003. On March 13at a few minutes before 6:00 a.m., Jeff was cleaning a mirror at Revell Motors in Verona , as he did every morning as part of the office cleaning business he ran, when he felt his lower body go weak and he slowly dropped to the floor.
Jeff spent the next hour on the floor, not knowing if his next breath would be his last.
“For about two minutes I thought about my family, and then I made peace with God. Then, I began thinking about anybody whom I had offended over the years. Then Harry Revell got there. He called the ambulance and within 45 minutes I was at KGH.”
It turned out that Jeff Grice, who was 46 years old at the time, had had a very rare stroke in his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed from the chest down.
Three and a half months later, after stints at KGH and St. Mary’s Hospitals, Jeff Grice returned to the home he had made with his wife Karen and their four children, wondering how they were going to face the future.
It turned out the Grices were far from alone. Support from the Community Care Access Centre, spearheaded by case manager Gail Johnson, was in place from the start, from nursing and personal care to assistance finding funding for equipment that Jeff needs in order to get around.
Funding was secured from the March of Dimes and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation for a host of household equipment that Jeff needed, including a special bed, an elevator and an electric wheelchair.
Jeff and Karen’s son Tyler, who was 17 at the time, came into the business and all of the clients Jeff had been servicing over the years stayed on. Daughters Carrie, Amy, and Emily have also provided tremendous support.
“Some families fall apart over things like this,” Jeff said, “but in our case it has only made us closer. I’m certainly grateful for that.”
Other people and organizations came forward that either knew the Grice family or heard about what they were going through. The Verona Lions Club, for example, paid the $1,100 cost of hand controls so Jeff could start driving again.
Jeff has also been well served by his abiding faith, and his faith community, both from his church on Sydenham Road and the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church , where he worshipped in his youth.
Before his stroke, Jeff enjoyed snowmobiling with his son, and he made several attempts to get back on his snowmobile after his stroke, “but I no longer could take the cold,” he recalls.
Another one of Jeff Grice’s passions throughout his life was music, and he travelled extensively with several groups as a gospel keyboard player. In the year 2000, he stopped playing in order to spend more time with his family, but now, three years after he became a paraplegic, Jeff is looking forward to playing keyboard again.
“The only problem I have is that I can’t exactly use the foot pedals. I hope to be able to figure out some way to alter a keyboard so I can play, but it will happen,” he said when interviewed earlier this week.
Whenever Jeff gets back into music, he will have no difficulty in travelling to concerts, thanks to a new Braun Entervan that was purchased for him last December. Although he has been able to drive since getting hand controls, he needed the help of one or more people to get into the front seat of his vehicle.
With his new van, that problem has been solved. Through an electronic key set that is attached to his wheelchair, he can open the sliding door to his van. The back of the van frame then drops down and a gently sloped ramp moves into place. Jeff can then roll into the van and easily manoeuvre his wheelchair into place behind the dashboard. The wheelchair then snaps into place and becomes the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Within a matter of two or three minutes, and without the assistance of anyone, Jeff Grice is on the road.
“The first place I went once I had this new van was to my church,” says Jeff. “I don’t know why this happened to me, but I know God had a reason, and I know that I’ll walk again some day, either here or somewhere else.”
The Grice family received $15,000 from the March of Dimes towards the new vehicle, but that left a $45,000 shortfall. Jeff and Karen decided to make the purchase nonetheless, through financing. This did not sit well with some of the family’s friends, and they decided to do something about it.
Evelyn and Ron Snider, from the gospel group Crimson River , have organized the Back in Motion fundraising campaign, which will have its kick-off event on June 10 at Minos restaurant in Kingston . Other scheduled events include a Best Ball Golf tournament at Rivendell on July 24, organised by Lynn Snider: 376-3132, and Larry Revell: 374-1364; a “Friends of Jeff” Concert featuring the Proverbs, Crimson River and Terena Grice at the Kingston Gospel Temple on December 16; and a Bluegrass Concert with the Abrams Brothers at Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church on Friday October 20.