Following a very serious car accident, Kimberly Potter said her 18-year old niece Devon Hamilton is paralyzed in a Columbus hospital and feeling all alone. But back home, in Wheelersburg, an entire community has come to the familys assistance, to help bring Devon home and remind her that in a small community such as ours, youre never alone. Devon is a senior at Wheelersburg High School, and on Dec. 26, 2009, she was coming home from a friends house in Sciotoville when she was involved in an accident. Potter said Devon was not intoxicated, was not talking or texting on her phone, and said her windshield was not frosted over but she still miscalculated the distance of a semi-truck that was allegedly illegally parked on the roadside, and hit the semi from behind. Devon was taken by Life-Flight helicopter to St. Marys Medical Center, in Huntington, W.Va., where doctors discovered she had severed her C6 vertebrae, leaving her paralyzed from the shoulders down. She was later taken to a hospital in Columbus. Doctors basically described it as an internal decapitation, Potter said. A week after her accident, Potter said many people didnt even realize Devon was still in the hospital, or how badly she was injured. Word finally began to spread after Tony Bazler, from Portsmouth West High School, got involved. During half-time of a Wheelersburg vs. West ball game, West High School donated a laptop computer to Devon, which she can use to watch DVD movies, listen to music, look at her Facebook page, or participate in video chat with her friends. She gets on Facebook and reads the gossip, and she feels like a teenager. They said at some point shell be able to use the keys, Potter said. Devon also uses the laptop computer to keep up with her studies at Wheelersburg High School, so she can maintain enough credits to graduate this summer. Devon will finally be released to come home at the end of this month, but Potter said the family was told they would have to either remodel their house to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act a downstairs bedroom, private bath, wheelchair ramps and more or Devon would have to be sent to a nursing home. What girl wants to graduate high school from a nursing home, Potter asked. Devons mother Tammy sent out a message to 3,000 people on Facebook asking for help, and the response has been overwhelming. Bikers for Christ has visited Devon in the hospital everyday to pray with her, and hundreds of people showed up to volunteer their time and skills to help remodel the house. Even students from Scioto County Career Technical Center laid all of the foundation blocks. Electricians and carpenters and plumbers in the area have all responded. Its been awesome. Theyve all volunteered their labor, but the materials is what the fundraisers are for, Potter said. Lowes in Wheelerburg is offering the family a special discount on materials, and a local electricians union has donated all the wiring hardware. A special fund also has been created at Desco Federal Credit Union to collect donations that will be used to help Devons family buy more supplies and equipment to make the house ADA compliant. On Saturday, a special Songfest fundraiser will be held in the cafetorium of Wheelersburg High School, beginning at 7 p.m., to benefit the Hamilton family. Artists performing include The Jones Boys, Joy Jones, Andy McGinnis, Minford Nazarene Youth Choir, Remnant Drama Team, Bloom F.W.B. Youth Skits, and Praise Team. Admission to the event is free, and money will be raised through the sale of concessions and a silent auction. Potter said Devon is anxious to come home, and thanks to the generous contributions of so many volunteers, shell have that opportunity. Everybodys encouraging words and prayers have meant a lot, being up here so far away from home. The community outpour has been fantastic. Its definitely something to be proud of. Im up here in Columbus and Im telling everybody what theyre doing down there, and they said it must be great to be from a small town and have so many people pull together like that as if it were one of their own. Without the communitys help, we wouldnt be able to bring her home, Devons mom, Tammy Hamilton said. Anyone still wishing to volunteer, or who would like to organize a fundraiser, can contact Potter at (740) 352-3107. In the meantime, the public is invited to follow Devons story, photos, and her progress, on the Please Pray For Devon Hamilton Facebook page.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.