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Meet Joseph Groh Foundation Recipient Rick Cook

Meet the latest grant recipient of the Joseph Groh Foundation, Rick Cook. Rick’s story shows yet another side of living with disabilities that we often don’t think about. When people are first disabled, family, friends, and neighbors often rush to their aid with assistance. Items like durable medical equipment however wear out, and insurance may well not be there to help. By that time, the individual’s disability no longer demands attention, because everyone is used to it.  In this case however –YOU were there to help Rick in his need, in a way that will continue paying dividends for years to come! Thank you to all our supporters for all that you do.

When Rick was a senior in high school in Baldwinsville, New York, he had enough credits to finish out by attending half days. That is when he went to work helping his dad hang sheetrock and do drywall finishing work. When he graduated, he went to work doing drywall finishing for a local company, before joining Painters Union #31. For the next 14 years, he did mostly drywall finishing work, but from time to time worked on ceiling tile grid and stucco jobs.
Rick Cook
Rick Cook

On January 26, 1999 Rick became paralyzed as the result of a snowmobile accident.

Rick was sitting about eye level in his snowmobile, and didn’t see the dead tree limb that had fallen across the shoreline of the trail until the last few seconds. He put on the brakes and ducked down, but not far enough. The branch caught the top of his helmet, pushing it back into his neck, breaking his neck at the C4-5 vertebrae. He was 32 years old.
As a quadriplegic, his level of injury is such that he can feel down to about the top of his elbows. He has just enough movement in his right arm to use a joystick on his power wheelchair.
Rick's old van, a 1996 Dodge Ram B2500 with approximately 130,000 miles and lots of worry.
Rick’s old van, a 1996 Dodge Ram B2500 with approximately 130,000 miles and lots of worry.

Rick lives with his parents and pays his share of expenses with the money he receives from SSDI. As Rick says, he is on a ‘tight budget.’ The hardest thing on Rick’s budget was his wheelchair van – a 1996 Dodge Ram B-2500 with 130,000 miles on it. “The costly repairs seem never ending,” Rick said. “Now, the lift is acting up, and it is hard for my parents to manually crank the lift from the ground up to the point where I get into the van. It is nerve-racking to travel very far from home.”

Around the end of 2019, Rick learned about our foundation from a woman he had become friends with. Her mother had received a grant from our foundation a number of years ago. That led him to apply for a grant for a wheelchair accessible van that could replace his 24-year-old vehicle.
Rick;s new van, a 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan with approximately 29,000 miles and peace of mind.
Rick;s new van, a 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan with approximately 29,000 miles and peace of mind.

Unfortunately, shortly after he made his request the coronavirus made its appearance, causing the foundation to cancel 2020 fundraising events. In April, however, the Service Roundtable was holding a national convention, and they partnered with the foundation for a fundraising idea – our foundation is the official one of the Service Roundtable. During various events at the national meeting in San Diego, convention goers were asked to match a pledge by the foundation to raise money for Rick’s van. When the funds were tallied, the President and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning, Ken Goodrich, matched it! While that was going on, Rick started a Go Fund Me account, designating the foundation for donor funds. Between all those funds and a generous grant from our foundation, enough money was raised to replace Rick’s aging van.

The day Rick received his van, he went for a 20-mile ride, and exclaimed that the van is AWESOME! Rick sent us a note saying, “I want to thank you and your foundation, along with all the others who made this possible. You all have gone above and beyond in making my life, as well as others lives, so much better, and I just cannot thank everyone that was involved enough. I love what your foundation stands for. It is so nice to be able to see out the windows of my new van, with no more worries about whether it will make it to where we need to go. Thanks again for everything.”

About The Joseph Groh Foundation

Joe Groh has been active in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for the past 35 years. On Father’s Day of 2008, following a day spent with family, Joe decided to go for an aerobic bike ride along the trails of Lake Grapevine. At one point the trail turned sharply left and the front tire of Joe’s mountain bike slid on some sand and off the trail. Joe was thrown headfirst over the handlebars, breaking his neck and damaging his spinal cord at the C-4 vertebra. Knowing that life had suddenly and unalterably changed, Joe vowed to never look back, never give up and to remain positive.

Establishing The Joseph Groh Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible foundation, is Joe’s way of giving back to the construction trades industry by:

  • Serving as a clearinghouse of information for those with spinal cord injuries.
  • Encouraging companies to offer and employees to purchase short and long-term disability insurance.
  • Financially assisting those with a connection to the construction trades industry who are living with a life altering injury or illness.

Learn more about Joe and the foundation at http://www.josephgrohfoundation.org.

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