Trip to Ukraine turns into life-altering experience

11/19/2012
BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
NBR-UKRAINE19p-1

From left, Gracie Runyon, Leigh Ann Yungmann, Tri-State Medical Supply general manager, Kristen Runyon, and Cecily Rohrs surround a wheelchair similar to one headed for a man in Ukraine

The Blade/Lori King

From left, Gracie Runyon, Leigh Ann Yungmann, Tri-State Medical Supply general manager, Kristen Runyon, and Cecily Rohrs surround a wheelchair similar to one headed for a man in Ukraine
From left, Gracie Runyon, Leigh Ann Yungmann, Tri-State Medical Supply general manager, Kristen Runyon, and Cecily Rohrs surround a wheelchair similar to one headed for a man in Ukraine

WAUSEON — When Ful­ton County res­i­dent Kris­ten Runyon and her 15-year-old daugh­ter Gracie Runyon re­turned from Ukraine this sum­mer, they had a story to tell.

Trav­el­ing with friends on a mis­sion trip that they or­ga­nized as a col­lec­tive, us­ing their own money, the group vis­ited or­phan­ages and nurs­ing homes near Odessa.

But it was a visit to a small, coun­try nurs­ing home that would end up chang­ing a life.

“The liv­ing con­di­tions were not real fa­vor­able,” Ms. Runyon said. She no­ticed that a res­i­dent who lived in the fa­cil­ity was smil­ing, even though he had sores on his face and his legs were miss­ing.

“He was in his bed and he has no legs, not even stumps or any­thing. It was pretty much his legs had been ... am­pu­tated, at the very top of the leg. The con­di­tions weren’t very good there … ” she said.

The man thanked the group for vis­it­ing and told them what he was do­ing.

“He said, ‘I pray ev­ery day to God to pro­vide a wheel­chair for me,’ ” said Ms. Runyon, of Fay­ette.

Hear­ing the man’s prayer re­quest was enough to touch the hearts of the vis­i­tors. Upon re­turn­ing, Ms. Runyon had the good for­tune of run­ning into Cecily Rohrs of the Arch­bold area at the Pizza Stop in Fay­ette.

“I was talk­ing to Cecily about my ex­pe­ri­ences and I re­lated that story to her. … It just kind of touched us that we could do some­thing about that wheel­chair,” she said.

Ms. Runyon said the man’s un­bend­ing faith was also some­thing that pro­pelled her to help him find a solu­tion. After hear­ing more, Ms. Rohrs sprang into ac­tion.

“There the man was, smil­ing. If this man is smil­ing, for me, at­ti­tude is ev­ery­thing. And this man’s at­ti­tude said to me, ‘This is what it takes,’ ” she said. After mak­ing a few calls, she found that Tri-State Med­i­cal in Wau­seon was will­ing to do­nate a wheel­chair to the man.

“I didn’t even have to convince them,” Ms. Rohrs said, add­ing that the shop helped them fig­ure out the man’s height and weight so they could get him a chair that would work best for his body.

Com­ing up with the money to ship the wheel­chair to Ukraine wasn’t a prob­lem, ei­ther. Ms. Rohrs is part of an in­for­mal church group that of­fered to help raise some of the money af­ter Ms. Runyon talked to the group about her ex­pe­ri­ences.

Last week, both women found out that the wheel­chair was ready to be shipped out.

“I imag­ine it’s go­ing to be a sur­prise,” Ms. Runyon said. “I don’t think the gen­tle­man has ever been told. It’s been kind of one thing af­ter an­other, and God’s just kind of opened the doors and Cecily’s had the con­nec­tions at this end.”