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The Plumb brothers could use a little help
DUCHENNE muscular dystrophy is no easy card to draw in the game of life. The genetic disease, which causes muscle wasting and weakness, shows up early, gets serious quickly, and has no known cure. But Duchenne MD has not stopped Orange County's Plumb brothers from living productive lives. Now, with a little help from the rest of us, those lives can be enhanced.
Most Duchenne MD patients are diagnosed early, by age 6, and end up in wheelchairs by age 12. That was true for GW Plumb, now 26. But it didn't stop him from getting a job at Faulconer Hardware in Orange when he was a junior in high school. He still works there today, and his boss calls him "invaluable." Observes one customer, "He's right on the ball, knows everything, and is the first to say 'Can I help you?'" Brother Ben, 24, managed to stay on his feet until he was 21. His goal was to walk across the stage at high-school graduation. Now he uses a wheelchair and works in the service department at Virginia Tractor, where co-workers say he finds things no one else can and call him "a great guy."
The pluck of the Plumb brothers is no doubt due in part to their parents, who, from the beginning, wanted the boys to have lives as normal as possible. "We always, always, always treated those guys as if nothing was wrong," their mom, Jane, told a Free Lance-Star reporter. "They played T-ball. They walked for a while. They fish and hunt with equipment they've adapted. We always made them think they have to do everything like everyone else, that they have responsibilities and obligations." Though Mr. and Mrs. Plumb could probably qualify for federal aid, they haven't asked for it. They pay their sons' health insurance on their own, care for them, and provide transportation to their jobs.
And that's where the community could help out. The Plumbs aren't looking for a handout. But right now, transporting the brothers involves their mother carrying them to and from the family van and placing them in wheelchairs staged at their workplaces and at home. How much easier life would be if they only had a lift-equipped van capable of transporting the young men in their chairs.
The Plumb brothers unfortunately didn't win a nationwide contest for such a vehicle, but Doris Waugh, a nursing-home resident who has been paralyzed for 30 years, has picked up the baton. With the help of a minister, she's set up a bank account to receive funds for the young men. Others have placed collection jars at the Plumbs' workplaces. Half of the $50,000 needed has been gathered so far.
A little help from the rest of us could finish the job. It's not charity--it's simply appreciation for the inspiration provided by two hardworking overcomers and their parents. Donations can be sent to Virginia National Bank, Box 709, Orange, Va. 22960. Be sure to note the money is for the "Van Fund for GW and Ben."