By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
GARDENDALE — A local house needs to be updated in order to meet the needs of a young boy in a wheelchair, and his church is heading up the fundraising effort.
Ethan Quick, 13, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was about 5 years old. He is now confined to a wheelchair or a hospital bed.
Ethan lives in Gardendale with his mother, Jamie Quick; his grandparents, Robert and Johnnie Thomas; and his younger brother and sister, Eric, 9 and Faith, 12.
Their house has a split foyer. A lift gets Ethan up the first set of steps, but his parents and grandparents must manually lift him and carry him the rest of the way, and to and from the car.
Members of the family’s church, Central Baptist in Gardendale, built a ramp at the house on Saturday, but the house needs more work to accommodate Ethan’s wheelchair.
Bonnie Bradford, who attends Central Baptist and has been friends with the Thomas and Quick family for about 20 years, said church members want to replace the carpet with laminate flooring to make it easier for Ethan to use his wheelchair throughout the house.
Bradford said the bathroom also needs to be made more wheelchair-accessible.
In addition, church members want to put in a circular driveway; much of the yard is worn away because the family has to pull the car up to the front door in order to get Ethan in and out.
Another big need is a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. Right now, Ethan’s mother has to lift him to get him back and forth between their car and his wheelchair.
When they get a vehicle that can carry his electric wheelchair, Ethan will be able to use it at home. Right now, he leaves it at school — Bragg Middle — and uses a manual wheelchair at home.
Ethan’s grandparents are both experiencing health problems and are no longer able to lift and move him. Robert Thomas has had two knee surgeries since July, and was just diagnosed with lung cancer. And Johnnie Thomas receives dialysis treatment three times a week.
Plus, Ethan is growing. He currently weighs 75 pounds, but will get heavier as he gets older. “We do what we have to do, but it’s getting harder and harder to carry him,” said his mother, Jamie Quick.
Ethan has not been able to walk for at least three years, and he is unable to dress himself.
His brother and sister are invaluable in helping take care of their brother, according to Jamie Quick.
“They always help me with him,” she said. “They know how to take care of him without me saying anything. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Johnnie Thomas agreed.
“They are both such good helpers with him, especially when his mother works nights,” she said.
Jamie works at Dollar General in Fultondale.
Even though there are many things Ethan can not do physically, his attitude is not diminished.
“He handles things really well. He just has a good outlook,” said Johnnie Thomas. “He has a better outlook sometimes than we do.”
Jamie Quick said her son is always smiling and happy.
“It’s everyday life to him, so he doesn’t complain about it,” she said. “He is so sweet, and he has a tender heart.”
Ethan loves sports, and played at the Gardendale Miracle League field for a couple of seasons. He has also attended muscular dystrophy camps, walks and fund-raisers.
Thomas said Ethan also likes building things and working with his hands. In addition, he loves his hand-held video games and tablet computer. “They keep his hands loosened up,” she said.
Ethan also loves to read, especially mysteries. “He’s a bright little boy,” Thomas said.
She and her daughter are appreciative of their church friends, who are trying to make life a little easier for Ethan and for the whole family.
“We are very appreciative of everything,” Thomas said. “They have always been there for us.”
The church is accepting donations to help pay for the work.
The Thomas Quick Home Renovation Fund is set up at IberiaBank in Fultondale, where Thomas worked until two years ago.
Individuals can also mail donations to the church in order for them to be tax-deductible. Make checks payable to Central Baptist Church and mail them to 4650 Newfound Road, Mt. Olive, AL, 35117. Write Thomas Quick Home Renovation Fund in the memo line.
For more information, call the church at 631-4231.