01/30/11 — Project planned to help patient, family

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Project planned to help patient, family

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 30, 2011 1:50 AM

Paula Schultze wants to make sure that when David Burke comes home from the Atlanta rehabilitation center where he has spent the bulk of the past eight months, he won't have to sleep on the couch.

Since the injury that damaged his spinal cord last spring, the 18-year-old Charles B. Aycock High School graduate has been receiving treatment at Shepherd Center.

For those who know him locally, it has been a challenge to find ways to best help him and his family.

Mrs. Schultze, whose son, Patrick, played soccer with David, is one of those well-wishers along with other members of David's family's church, Stoney Creek Free Will Baptist.

"I actually met (David's mom) Donna at Greenville at the hospital the night of the accident," she said. "We have known him a long time. ... If we can do anything to make his life easier and make him function best, that's what we will do."

Mrs. Schultze said David's parents have enough to deal with managing the family responsibilities, which includes three older sons. During the rehabilitation process, Mrs. Burke has lived in Atlanta with David, while husband, Tom, stayed behind.

At the outset, all the Burkes asked for was prayer.

Now it's time to put some feet on those prayers, Mrs. Schultze said. And one way to do that became evident on the heels of David's recent visit home.

"People want to help, and I was approached by so many people when it all happened, asking, 'Do you know of anything they need?'" Mrs. Schultze said. "I had so many people come up to me during soccer season and we have not known what they needed. But now we realize a need -- just by talking to (Donna) and seeing how that bed was in their living room because he couldn't get upstairs."

For the past few weeks, Mrs. Schultze has worked to establish a bank account to collect funds to support the family and to help with medical expenses. She has also secured a contractor to help remodel the Burkes' house in anticipation of David's return in early spring.

"The earliest it would be is April, depending on his health," she said. "It could be June if they extend it."

She has already had plans drawn up to renovate an enclosed porch at the family home. The remodel will include a bedroom/bathroom suite for David with its own entrance.

"It'll be his own area he can function in, to be able to do what he needs to do on his own," she said. "He's 18. He's a man, even though he's still young. But he needs to have his own area to maintain dignity and have a sense of privacy."

Mrs. Schultze said she has already gathered some grassroots support and hopes the community might also participate in the project.

"People still do want to help if they know there's a way that they can help," she said. "It's a big project, with prayer and people wanting to help, I think we can make it happen. We just have to ask for people and let people do what they can do, whether it's their skills or their finances. We just appreciate it."

Converting the 12-by-29-foot area will require removing doors and creating a handicap-accessible bathroom, bedroom and sitting room area, Mrs. Schultze said, as well as obtaining the necessary county permits.

"I have got to get a licensed electrician. I think one of the plumbers from church might help, and we'll need heating and cooling, drywall, all of those skill things, but we're going to need help taking what's in there out," she said. "Even for people that can't do these things, we'll take a check, feeding the people that are working. Really at this point, I just need whatever anybody's willing to offer."

The most immediate goal is to clean out the existing room and ready it for the project.

"We want to get this ready so that they can come and do the roof, drywall and plumbing," she said. "Hopefully I can get enough people to call me and say, 'I can help with such and such a part of it."

Every bit of money raised will go toward materials and equipment in addition to ongoing medical expenses. As for the remodel itself, Mrs. Schultze said it has been estimated to be a $25,000 project.

"My goal is to at least get this done," she said. "Anything else I'll just turn over to (Donna)."

Mrs. Schultze admitted it is a big undertaking, but has faith it will come to fruition.

"With all the prayers and other people's help, it will make it a reality," she said.

For more information on the project, call Ronnie Schultze at 440-0624.

To make a donation, checks can be designated to "Burke's Big Build" at RBC Bank, 106 N. Spence Avenue, Goldsboro, NC 27534.