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Published: Saturday, 5/18/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Benefit at VFW hall assists animal rescue volunteer with diabetes

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
‘I've gotten a second chance at life,’ Mike Severino says. ‘The blood clots could have killed me.’ Mr. Severino, who has diabetes, had a leg amputated in January. Fellow volunteers are serving a spaghetti dinner benefit today. ‘I've gotten a second chance at life,’ Mike Severino says. ‘The blood clots could have killed me.’ Mr. Severino, who has diabetes, had a leg amputated in January. Fellow volunteers are serving a spaghetti dinner benefit today.
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The local animal rescue community and others are coming together to support longtime volunteer Mike “Sevi” Severino, whose life was turned upside down this year when he had his right leg amputated.

Mr. Severino, 37, of Toledo is a volunteer with Planned Pethood Inc. and the Lucas County Dog Warden.

Even after the amputation, which prevented him from returning to his home since January, he has continued to support both groups.

“Even when Mike was in the hospital, he ordered dog treats online and had them mailed here to be given to the dogs in our care,” said Laura Simmons, operations manager at the dog warden, who says she is attending the benefit.

“His kind and selfless acts of love and support for the homeless dogs here brighten their lives while they are awaiting their forever homes.”

RELATED: Video of the event

Although he can no longer transport dogs to events, he has continued to help Planned Pethood by screening adopters and doing paperwork at events.

He also recruited one of the physical therapists at Heartland of Perrysburg, where he is undergoing physical rehabilitation, to become a foster volunteer.

“Being able to continue to do that kind of stuff has kept me sane,” Mr. Severino said.

“When you have so much of your life taken away from you, being able to do something that you used to do, it makes a huge difference.”

Longtime friends Sara Bassler of Perrysburg, Debbie Fallon of Toledo, and Wendy McCall of Toledo are co-hosting a benefit for Mr. Severino today at the VFW hall at 5416 Summit St.

“He is the most generous person I have met,” Mrs. Bassler said.

“He is one who has always put others before himself. Now it’s time to put him first. We wanted to do this to help him stay independent and to continue to live in his own place. He has not been able to work through his recovery process so he really needs the help.”

The goal of the fund-raiser is $5,000, some of which will be used to have his vehicle retrofitted to accommodate him so he will be able to drive.

There is no cover charge; attendees can donate what they want.

The family-friendly event will include a spaghetti dinner, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, DJ, band, and adult beverages. Doors open at 5:30 p.m and dinner will be served at 6 p.m.

Those unable to attend who wish to contribute to Mr. Severino’s recovery fund can do so at any Fifth Third branch. It is under Mike “Sevi” Severino benefit c/o Debbie Fallon.

The story of Mr. Severino’s fate even has an animal twist.

He was out searching in the January cold for a former foster dog, who had gone missing from her adopter’s home, when his foot began to bother him.

He has suffered from Type 2 diabetes for eight years and had several foot surgeries as a result. When it didn’t feel better after a few days of rest, he went to see his podiatrist, who told him to go to the hospital immediately.

A vascular surgeon operated on his leg, which was full of blood clots, for nine hours. Two days later, surgeons went back in but were unable to save the leg, which was amputated at the midthigh.

Since leaving the hospital for rehab, Mr. Severino has lost 35 pounds and is learning to walk with a prosthetic. He works out with weights to improve his upper body strength and recently completed a .05K race — 164 feet — to benefit the Dragonfly Foundation in Cincinnati.

“I know it sounds crazy, but this has maybe been the biggest blessing I have ever had,” he said. “This is just the slap in the face I needed to get healthy. I look at every day now as an opportunity.”

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @Tanya Irwin.



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