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A Great Teacher

Reprinted from PN June 2011

Before Gary broke his back in a motorcycle accident when he was 19, he was a great athlete. His love for sports has carried on to our boys. At every T-ball, football, and wrestling match Gary is there coaching our boys along.

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Family members describe why wheelchair-dads Edward Thill (from left), James Compton, and Gary Waldfogel are special.

My husband, Gary Waldfogel, is the most deserving dad I know.

As a mother of two young boys, I have an endless list of things to do. My lack of patience for tasks like brushing teeth and bathing the kids leads me to just “do it myself.” Gary is a T4 paraplegic, and it isn’t easier for him to do all the things required to take care of two small children.

From the time our boys were just 4 or 5 months old, Gary taught them to hold still and balance on his lap so he could carry them. During a typical morning while I’m trying to pack lunches and make sure their book bags are ready to go, Gary has the patience to teach the boys how to zip up their coats and tie their shoes.

Before Gary broke his back in a motorcycle accident when he was 19, he was a great athlete. His love for sports has carried on to our boys. At every T-ball, football, and wrestling match Gary is there coaching our boys along.

He has a job and hobbies like any other guy. He hauls campers with his pickup truck to places all over the country. He loves to camp and go 4-wheeling. He taught our son Owen to ride a dirt bike when he was 5 years old. In spite of how Gary acquired his injury, he is teaching the boys not to be afraid but respectful and enjoy life.

Gary built a lift for a Jeep TJ and put 44-inch tires underneath it. It took him a little longer to finish that project than most, but he thinks of original inventive ways to get things done, like teaching his wife how to weld the places he can’t reach. When I met Gary I had an after-school job at Wal-Mart. His car’s hand controls had broken, and he was trying to figure out how to make it home. He settled on a toilet plunger handle!

Gary is an amazing father. He has taught our boys resilience and independence in a way I never could.

 

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A Great Teacher

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