Guest column/Community earns thanks

With this being the season for giving, I would like to take the time to give thanks to this wonderful community we live in. Unfortunately, we live in a community where the negative outweighs the positive. At this time I would like to shine the light on the good that our area has done for my family during the last two years.

My name is Lisa Cummings and my son is Justin Cummings. Justin was a passenger in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. As you can imagine, our lives changed instantly. Not just his, but his entire family. A lot of people always ask me how did I make it through those first couple of months, and I can honestly say now, it’s because of all of you. Every small town in our area had some part of getting my whole family through this. So many people reached out to us, and I can’t even begin to list each one of you.

With social media getting blamed for a lot of negative things, I really think social media helped us tremendously. We were receiving messages from people from all over the United States, from a lot of people I don’t even know and have never met. Justin was receiving tweets from celebrities and even had the opportunity to meet and spend time with several sports figures. I swear the hospital staff probably thought Justin was a celebrity because of all the e-cards and mail he was getting on a daily basis. He needed a team of people to just go through it all. And that’s not to mention all of the visitors who came to see him. Because Justin played sports for Indian Creek, we received a lot of support from all the area schools as well as schools as far as St. Clairsville and from West Virginia. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with emotions because of the love and support that we received from everyone who may have come in contact with Justin. To all of you, I am forever grateful.

Even though we had a lot of supporters from outside, the supporters from Mingo Junction, Wintersville and Steubenville have given so much of their time and energy, and to them I am ever so grateful. We had countless fundraisers from spaghetti dinners, car washes, boot drives, bracelet sales, sports day and a Valentine’s dance that generated more than $16,000. Thank you to all of the businesses that donated items for all of our fundraisers. Without your generous donations, none of this could have been possible. The elementary schools had bake sales and Hills school awarded Justin a scholarship that they award yearly to a previous student who has attended their school and that the current students have to nominate and vote on.

Several local businesses raised money in one way or another and donated labor so that Justin could be comfortable in his home.

We couldn’t have had any of the success without the local news media, including the Herald-Star, WTRF-TV, local radio stations and WTOV-TV for putting it all out there for everybody to see. Because of all the money raised, I was able to use it toward the purchase of a house that was needed for Justin to be able to get around in, to buy a van to be able to transport him in and, most recently, to purchase a manual wheelchair so that he could have so much more independence. And to all of you, I am forever grateful.

I have to especially thank the following people for moving mountains for Justin. Members of the Indian Creek High School football and basketball teams, you all have been Justin’s rock. Coach Andrew Connor and his staff are more than coaches to Justin.

They are family and they made things possible for Justin in so many ways that I can’t even begin to mention. Coach Joe Dunlevy and his family have given in ways that most people wouldn’t understand. And, thanks to the school district for working with Justin to make sure he stays on track with his school work. Some people might say that it’s their job to do these things, but each of you always did something more than your job required you to do. I would also like to mention all of the boys who have helped in so many ways. You boys are a great group of young men and Justin is blessed to have all of you in his life. As it’s been said during football season, “One Team, One Journey.” So to all of you, I am forever grateful.

And last but not least, I would like to thank my friends and family, my mom, Darlene Oiler and Bryan Oiler, my grandmother Tillie Timcho, my aunt Cynthia Shoulders, my aunt Jenny Delauder, Teresa and Greg Rea, Angie and Donald Shoulders, Lindsey and Shannon White, Jacob and Josh Pemberton, Amber and Ed Nest, Andrew and Tiffany Connor, John and Marni Sullivan, James Huggins Jr. (“Jags”), Julie Roar, Katherine Wojciechowski, Jan and Doug Freshwater and so many others for making this transition during the last two years a little bit easier in so many ways. We have all been on this road together and without all of you I don’t know where we would be. To all of you, I am forever grateful.

So during this season of giving, I would like to give thanks to the members of this great community that we live in for their tremendous hearts and generous souls. We may live in a small town, but you all have the biggest hearts around. So to all of you and all of the businesses that have donated money, time, energy, services, goods, a shoulder to cry on, labor and supplies, advice, prayers and good wishes, thank you for everything you have ever done for us and continue to do. You all will be in our hearts forever. Justin is doing great and has come a long way in this journey. He has plans to go off to college and get a degree in business management. I’m looking forward to the future and taking this ride with all of you. It’s because of all of you that I can say I survived one of the hardest things a parent has to go through. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Be thankful this season for the little things in life that we may take for granted. You never know when it can all change.

Justin, Cheyenne and I say happy holidays from our house to yours.

(Cummings is a resident of Wintersville.)