Partially paralyzed veteran in need of handicapped van

GAHANNA, OH (WCMH) — A Vietnam War Army veteran has fallen on hard times. Partially paralyzed and in pain, and now confined to a wheelchair without a vehicle, Stephen Karales, 70, has kept a good attitude.

Karales is a giver – volunteering 15,000 hours in the benefits office at the local VA and homeless shelter with the YWCA, until illness left him partially paralyzed.

It took a tremendous effort for Karales to stand up and move to a wheelchair wheeled up to the passenger side of Steve Guenther’s SUV.

Karales came to the Gahanna Legion and VFW Post on Johnstown Road with several other veterans who  pitched in to help.

A year ago the former combat medic said he was on a mission spending all of his waking-hours helping other veterans. Then he contracted a strange virus which left him in a coma for 11 days and permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

“I nearly died, the diagnosis was acute respiratory failure,” said Karales.

Now without the right vehicle he said he is home-bound.

“It is very difficult for me to get in and out of a vehicle. I can do it, but it is extremely painful,” said Karales.

A friend and fellow veteran Steve Guenther stepped up and is trying to raise money to buy a handicapped van.

“Most of us are very fortunate. You take someone in Stephen’s position, why not help it is good for the soul?” said Guenther. Also a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force.

A new van could cost $28,000 to $30,000, then fully renovated to be accessible enough for his motorized wheelchair, Guenther said could double that price.

For 38 years, Karales owned a home building business, but said that and his retirement went down the tubes during the Enron crisis. Now he said he is getting by on Social Security, but still would like to continue helping veterans.

“I would love to be able to build housing and redo homes for homeless veterans,” Karales said.

Guenther said you can help buy Karales a handicapped van by donating to or at the American Legion Post 797 at provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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