Volunteers helping Columbus veteran have his first shower in years

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Volunteers are helping a local veteran get a well-deserved shower after four years of waiting.

Tracy and Sam Hart recently celebrated their 35th Wedding Anniversary.

Sam turned 60 in January. Five years ago on January 22, he suffered a stroke and has been in recovery ever since. Tracy says it began at a breakfast table. She and Sam were sitting there when Sam grabbed the back of his head and turned ghostly white. Tracy tells NBC4 he was rushed to the hospital where they learned he suffered a stroke.

Tracy recalls that one too many times she was told to “pull the plug,” but she knew in her heart Sam would recover. Eventually, Sam was able to go home, and she began to help him get better. She quit her job she had for more than 20 years at OSU to be with him every step of the way.

A family friend also offered to help, and began to remodel their downstairs bathroom to install a shower for Sam that would be wheelchair accessible. But then that friend had a heart attack and was never able to finish the remodel.

Tracy and Sam have now been living in what’s essentially a construction zone. Without a bathroom or shower on the first level of the home, Sam has been unable to take a shower for years, relying only on sponge baths to stay clean.

Word got out around through veterans at the local American Legion and eventually to a group called Team Red, White & Blue, a group dedicated to helping the lives of America’s Veterans. Thanks to them, Sam is about to get the shower he deserves.

Two grants later, including $7,400 from Home Depot and $1,500 from VFW Ohio Charities, plus hundreds of hours of volunteered time from 40 volunteers means Sam is going to have his first real shower in almost a handful of years.

“I’ve been coming home from my days on this project you know just floating a little bit off the floor knowing that you’re making someone else’s life just a little better,” says Team Red, White & Blue volunteer John Fogg.

The volunteers have become close with Tracy and Sam, calling them their family.

“You going to miss us when we’re gone,” joked volunteer Jodi Wisecarver. “I promise we’ll come back”.

The process has been taking a little longer than expected, but it has given time for volunteers to also finish a brand new bedroom for the couple. Tracy had been sleeping on the couch in the family room ever since Sam came home from the hospital five years ago.

The volunteers have also repainted and decorated the family room.

“The original plan was just this space, but we’ve converted another space into an additional bedroom space for Sam and Tracy,” Fogg explained. “We’ve been able to paint, decorate and actually give Sam a bedroom back that he hasn’t had for five years.”

Sam’s shower will be fully installed in the next couple weeks. NBC4 will be there along the way bringing each update.

The American Legion has been donating food weekly for volunteers and the Harts. Next, Tracy hopes Sam gets the therapy he needs because the couples next goal is for Sam to walk again.

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