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Life in the Right Order: Family First, Injury Second

Life in the Right Order: Family First, Injury Second

A horrific automobile accident 18 years ago crushed two of Marc’s vertebrae and left him paralyzed. Intensive rehabilitation, numerous surgeries, and incredible determination let him recover some movement, and the Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Program let him maintain his career—both major accomplishments. But Marc prefers to talk about what his career has allowed him to do: raise his son and daughter, help them with college, travel to their weddings, and help them buy their first homes. His latest joy: the dark-haired granddaughter with the piercing green eyes who visits him every chance she gets.

Through the PCA Program, the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) provides funding to pay a personal assistant to help with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, preparing food, toileting, and transferring. Only people with severe disabilities who are employed, seeking employment, or training for employment are eligible. LEAP is a contracted agency for the program.

A testament to his positive attitude and pleasant personality, Marc has had the same personal assistants since he left the hospital. Ken, his primary assistant, is paid through the PCA program, and Clarence, who works when Ken is off, is paid directly by Marc. In addition, a family member runs his household while Marc works from his bed or his electric wheelchair in his bedroom/office.

One side of that room is warmly personal, decorated with family photographs, personal mementos, and a television, while the other side is pure business, outfitted with a cabinet of office supplies and a moveable table holding his computer and office telephone. (The computer’s screen saver, however, breaks this sharp division: it’s a photo of him dancing with his daughter at her wedding. “She sat on my lap and I just put my chair on low speed,” he laughed.)

Marc didn’t always work at home. For a few years, Ken drove him to and from his office. But when telecommuting became easier, Marc combined home and office. Today, he works for Effecon Services, a cloud-based company that provides structural steel components and construction services. As director of client services, Marc develops sales leads for the firm’s regional managers.

Marc said achieving a positive attitude wasn’t easy. “It’s a gradual process to get accustomed to your new life. I’ve had horrible times and I’ve had wonderful times.” His injury resulted in consequences fairly common among those who have sustained drastic injury or illness: his marriage ended, many friends disappeared, and his social life contracted.

“But I got an awful lot of help at the beginning. A friend’s church raised money for me, and my synagogue was also supportive. My boss at the time paid my insurance premiums until I became eligible for Medicare. And my brothers helped me, as they have almost every day of these 18 years.”

And the PCA Program helped him cut through red tape and get on with his life.

“I never figured to be here 18 years later,” he said. “Life today is 99 percent family.” Like that beautiful little girl, the love of his life. Spring break is coming!