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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.”