Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Hard work, special care
Center honors area resident
By Margie Wuebker
Jim Heyne, a longtime patient at the Center for Neurological Development in Burk. . .
FORT RECOVERY - Jim Heyne received a standing ovation Monday night at the Center for Neurological Development's annual appreciation banquet.
Two brothers lifted him from the wheelchair to acknowledge the tribute. Unable to give a thumbs-up sign, the 59-year-old man merely moved his arms in a show of gratitude and flashed his familiar grin.
Heyne, who currently resides at Briarwood Village in Coldwater, was one of the first clients when the center opened in 1984. He continues to receive therapy at the facility two to three days a week.
A handful of the center's 68 patients shared what the facility means to them and expressed gratitude to the supporters who make the program possible.
Each year, one patient steps into the spotlight to share their story. Rick Heyne did it on behalf of his brother, summoning laughter as well as tears.
"Tonight we focus on a man who has used his life to set an example for all of us on how we should live ours," Heyne told the crowd of over 400 people. "He has experienced more life-changing challenges in his life than many of us have ever heard about or read about. He has met those challenges and accomplished more successes in his life than any of us can even begin to imagine."
Jim graduated from Coldwater High School in 1971 after enjoying success as a pitcher on the baseball team, as the lead role in the production of "Camelot" and as the recipient of a John Phillip Sousa award for musical excellence. He earned a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati to study architecture.
His life took an unexpected twist in September 1972 on state Route 219 near Coldwater. A car passing another vehicle plowed head-on into his car, resulting in life-threatening injuries.
Doctors at a Lima hospital offered little hope; if Jim survived he would likely remain in a vegetative state. They suggested finding a good nursing home but Leroy and Teresa Heyne never lost hope that their son would recover.
He slowly emerged from a 3 1/2-month coma and responded to questions with blinks - once for yes and twice for no. Family members spelled out words letter-by-letter using the same method in a process that often took hours for a handful of sentences.
After five months in the hospital, Jim went to Green Springs Rehabilitation Center near Tiffin for a grueling seven months of therapy.
"Jim lost his balance and the ability to talk, crawl, walk, feed himself or perform many of the things we all do on a daily basis and probably take for granted," Heyne said.
The Heyne home served many purposes upon Jim's release with the basement becoming a physical therapy department.
After years of making trips to the Piqua Neurological Center, the Heynes and many others realized Mercer County needed a similar facility for people of all ages dealing with the aftermaths of accidents, strokes, birth defects and other problems. The dream became reality in 1984.
Jim made progress thanks to never-ending therapy and for many years his mode of transportation through the house became crawling as he did not like the wheelchair unless it was absolutely necessary. He regained the ability to speak even though people who meet him for the first time have difficulty understanding his words. And it was his decision to eventually move to Briarwood to lessen the burden on his aging parents.
"My brother continues to attend the center," Heyne said. "The words 'give up' are not in his vocabulary. Jim has never given up and always went the extra mile. Not only has he worked his butt off, he has done it with an attitude and sense of humor that is second to none."
Volunteers important to center:
The Center for Neurological Development in Burkettsville relies on many volunteers to assist in the therapy and patterning of its 68 patients.
Staff members honored volunteers who have reached milestones during the annual appreciation dinner held Monday at Fort Recovery American Legion Hall.
Topping the list were Roger and Brenda Speck for 25 years of service beginning in 1988 when Roger joined the center's board of directors.
Dorothy Bruns of St. Henry and Mary Schmitz of Fort Recovery received 20-year awards, while Mary Ann Diller of St. Anthony was recognized for 15 years of service.
Ten-year recipients were Ruth and Henry Kunkler of Burkettsville, Jeremy Duncan of New Weston, Lester Bruns of St. Henry, Bob Huecker and Ted Heckman of Minster and Ralph Fullenkamp of St. Joe.
Honored for five years of assistance were John Dull of Rockford, Dorothy Pohlmann of Maria Stein and Jerry Wissman of Minster.
Charles Dunwoody, a 96-year-old Yorkshire resident and a patient at the center, offered prayer before the meal.
Fifteen patients and volunteers, who died during 2012, were honored with the lighting of candles.
Charles Burhns, who served as patient evaluator from 1984 until his death in August, also was remembered. Burhns, a professional trainer in sensorimotor development, focused on promoting and supporting neurological centers like the one in Burkettsville because of the long-term benefits they provide for those who no longer can be served by the conventional system.
Center director Joan Kiser added, "If someone needed his expertise in a hurry, he was always just a phone call away. He cultivated an innate knowledge toward neurological therapy and practiced it with generosity."
Kiser and assistant director Zelda Zizelman thanked various donors including the Minster Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Wendelin Sports Club, Courage to Live Foundation and Ohio Recycling Inc. for their monetary support that, along with the support of others, makes it possible to provide therapy to patients at no cost.
The Rev. Louis Schmit gave closing prayer and led some 420 attendees in song.