KINGSTON — The Valley with a Heart sprung into action Friday to help a family battling several medical issues.
Several area businesses and restaurants descended on 136 Division St. to put together a wheelchair ramp for cancer-stricken Fred Whitesell.
The ramp will allow Whitesell to get in and out of his son’s home with a bit more ease. His son, Heath Rusinko, who owns the house with his wife, Becky Hawk, has his own medical issues.
“I’m so emotional,” said Rusinko as he watched several Gilroy Construction workers hammer nails and use a staple gun on the base of the 16-foot ramp. “My head is still spinning.”
Rusinko put a Facebook post together, asking for someone to put the ramp together for his father. Donnie Evans, owner of Roof Cleaning Pros & Pressure Washing, saw the post and decided to do something.
Evans said it only took an hour to get the materials and workers together.
“It took longer to get the permits,” he said.
Gilroy Construction President Edmund Gilroy said people like Rusinko/Whitesell are “near and dear to his heart” because he lost his father to cancer.
“As soon as we heard, we came to look,” Gilroy said. “If it wasn’t for Donnie, we wouldn’t be here”
Though Hawk is a caregiver and asset to the family, medical issues have plagued the family for years.
Rusinko is on oxygen for the rest of his life.
Whitesell, a double-leg amputee, had a stroke a few years ago which caused dementia. He also required a new kidney and liver. Last week, doctors found spots on his liver after the family rushed him to the emergency room.
It took four guys to help Whitesell down the three steps in the front of their home Friday morning as he went to treatment, Rusinko said.
“He knows but he doesn’t know,” Rusinko said about his father. He said he introduced the workers to Whitesell before he was whisked away, but he probably wouldn’t remember by the time he came back. “He has no short-term memory.”
Restaurants, including KJ’s Pickle Barrel in Edwardsville and Pizza Bella in Forty Fort, donated lunch for the laborers and the family.
The Kingston Lion’s Club donated a gift card to The Grille in Luzerne, so when Whitesell can leave the home on his new ramp, Evans said, they can enjoy a night out.
Gilroy Construction hopes to have the ramp finished by Saturday afternoon
Sponsors of the handicap ramp are:
• Evolutionary Computers 18704
• Home Depot Wilkes Barre Pa 18702
• Attorney Michael Lombardo 18704
• Store It All/Bob Trusavage 18643
• Roof Cleaning Pros & Pressure Washing 18643
• William Yeager Insurance Agency
• Gilroy Construction