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Tommy Adams is at every Galax High School game, sitting on the sidelines, cheering and supporting the players. He is their biggest fan.
And when it came time to return the support, the community rallied together to help Adams.
Adams, 51, has been a resident of Waddell Nursing & Rehab Center in Galax for 23 years. He is head of the facility’s resident council for several years, a mentor to staff and residents over the years and a big supporter of local sports teams.
Staff, residents and the community pitched in to gather donations and host a hot dog luncheon to see that Adams received a new electric wheelchair after his broke down three or four months ago. His friends started fundraising in April, and Adams received the new chair a couple of weeks ago.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone here and in the community,” said Adams. “Some people gave from their pocket, and I’m grateful to everybody, especially during these tough economic times. It’s overwhelming and humbling.”
The Galax Moose Lodge matched half of the $7,200 that was needed to purchase the new wheelchair — and then they made Adams a member of the Moose Lodge.
When Adams was 13, the Moose Lodge sponsored his Little League team to attend a baseball game in Baltimore, Md. That’s something he’ll remember for the rest of his life, he said.
“I think it’s neat that the Moose Lodge helped me then, and now that I’m older, they’re good to me now,” he said.
Adams said as a member of the Moose Lodge, he hopes to he can be an asset to the community any way he can. “You want to be able to give to the people who have given to you.”
His new wheelchair provides him with more freedom and more mobility, said Adams.
“There were a lot of people that worked hard, and a lot of people did a lot of good things,” said Adams, noting that a couple of his friends, Phil and Robin Pack, really lent a helping hand. “It’s just really special to me, and the wheelchair has given me back my independence.”
Adams, who had played sports of all kinds since he was a tyke, was injured on Nov. 1, 1974. That day, he and his neighbor were raking leaves and jumping into them. When Adams dove into a big pile of leaves, he broke his neck, leaving him paralyzed.
However, he doesn’t let that get to him.
Megan Johnson, social services director at Waddell Nursing & Rehab, said the wheelchair has enhanced Adams’ quality of life.
“Tommy is active in the community and avid sports fan,” said Johnson. “He is independent and strong-willed, and this allows him to get out and do things without depending on others. It’s also a tremendous health benefit.”