04/16/09 — Mother comes to aid of family of boy injured in accident

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Mother comes to aid of family of boy injured in accident

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 16, 2009 1:46 PM

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Cynthia Gambrel, left, whose son Taylor is in a coma in Pitt Memorial Hospital, stands in front of the new home her family will soon move in to, thanks to fundraising efforts of Beverly Vinson, right. Mrs. Vinson learned of the Gambrels' situation and wanted to help, having gone through her own son's hospitalization about two years ago after a hunting accident.

A family whose child has been in a coma at Pitt Memorial Hospital since January is getting help from a mother who was in a similar situation 18 months ago.

Beverly Vinson of Goldsboro knows what it's like to wait by a hospital bed, traveling back and forth and waiting to hear news on her child's situation. In 2007, her son Brandon was a patient after having been accidentally shot while hunting with a friend. At the time, whether or not he would walk again was uncertain.

A few months later, her nephew was struck by a car and killed. So when she recently learned about the Gambrel family, it struck a chord.

Taylor Gambrel, a 12-year-old student at Eastern Wayne Middle School, was hit by a car while riding a bicycle near his home on Powell Road on Jan. 26.

Taylor was airlifted to Pitt, where he has remained in a coma. Last month, doctors told the family they were considering releasing him.

The news sent the family scrambling to accommodate his return, said his mother, Cynthia Gambrel. Seven people living in a two-bedroom mobile home, especially when one will require medical services, will be a challenge, she said.

That's when she put the word out that the family was seeking help relocating. Ideally, the place would be within the New Hope area, enabling her other children to remain in the same schools.

Late last week, Taylor's condition stabilized and he has been essentially taken off all medications, she said, and the date for his release is looming -- possibly the end of this month.

The family also received more good news, thanks to a woman they didn't even know before all this.

Mrs. Vinson said when she learned about the Gambrel's plight, it stirred something within her.

"I tried to find them. It just touched my heart," she said. "They were so precious. I knew what a struggle it was going to be for them."

She has kept in contact with the family periodically, she said. But when she read about Taylor coming home things shifted.

"The Lord just laid it on my heart, 'You can do something,'" Mrs. Vinson said. "We started talking about it at church, money started coming in, doors opened for this little home that came open."

"She has rallied so many people, it's not funny," Mrs. Gambrel said. "She sent out 200 letters to all Methodist churches, talking about a fundraiser. She's started to get reactions."

It seems there is a vacant double-wide mobile home located between Eastern Wayne elementary and high schools, Mrs. Gambrel said, within walking distance to her children's schools.

"We're buying the property for $28,000, so that's our goal," Mrs. Vinson said. To date, a little more than $4,500 has been collected.

Through Mrs. Vinson's efforts, an account has been set up at Daniels Memorial United Church for donations, which hopefully will be used to purchase the house for the family.

"It's a three-bedroom double-wide. We would have space to bring him home," Mrs. Gambrel said. "But she wants to also raise enough money to build a room for him that would be handicap-ready."

"It meets their minimum needs but it doesn't meet all of their needs," Mrs. Vinson said. "They really, really want a privacy fence put up in the back. The road is busy. So we're certainly going to be seeking donations of materials and fencing."

Meanwhile, another type of response came from one of the recipients of Mrs. Vinson's letter -- the MERCI Center in Rosewood.

"They had the supplies and the materials to build a ramp," Mrs. Gambrel said. "They have been trying since January to put this ramp on somebody's house but it has not worked out. .... A youth group came over and put together that ramp, so we have a ramp on the back of our house."

It's no coincidence, the ladies say.

"It's just in the Lord's hands," Mrs. Vinson said. "They said they had the materials since January and every time they tried to build something, it just fell through. It's just God."

The mothers find other ways to rejoice. Both agree they can find things to be thankful for in their sons.

"Taylor's really doing good," Mrs. Gambrel said. "He's pretty much stable, they're just watching him for the next couple of weeks, which will give us time to get everything at home straight. ... And we just want to say thank you to everyone who has already given. We really appreciate everything."

As for Brandon, now 19, Mrs. Vinson said he is "doing super."

"He's going to Pitt Community College, in the electrical program," she said. "Therapy's going great. He uses a long leg brace on his right leg and uses a cane. He's just a miracle."

Anyone wishing to donate to the Taylor Gambrel fund can send checks to Daniels Memorial United Methodist Church, 2803 E. Ash Street, Goldsboro 27534.

A meeting is also being planned at the church on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the church fellowship hall, and anybody interested in helping with fundraising efforts is welcome, Mrs. Vinson said.