Volunteers sought to help couple hit with medical, financial woes
It has been a rough couple of years, to say the least, for Scott and Cali (Rotruck) Witt, of Gibsonburg.
On July 20, 2010, Scott and his daughter Jenna were in a serious vehicle accident at the corner of SR 51 and US 20 while on their way to the Ottawa County Fair.
Scott was crossing Route 20 and didn’t see an oncoming cargo van, which struck them on the passenger side, spinning them into a car sitting at the stop sign.
“Although the impact was on my daughter’s side, by some miracle, her injuries were minor,” Cali said. Scott was not so fortunate. He suffered a closed head trauma, a collapsed lung, fractured scapula and various other injuries. Diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), he spent nine days in the hospital, followed by three additional weeks of physical, occupational and speech therapies.
“At the start, physically, his symptoms were similar to a stroke,” Cali said. “He was unable to move the right side of his body. Luckily, his therapies helped, and he was walking on his own by the time he was released to my care, one month after the accident.”
In the accident’s aftermath, Scott has also battled numerous other health issues, including a torn rotator cuff, abdominal rupture, drastic weight loss and coordination and balance issues. “This has led to a severe case of depression that has him to sometimes wonder why God spared his life,” Cali said.
She is currently working to get approval from her insurance company to get Scott into Neuro-Restorative, a rehabilitation facility near Columbus in the hopes of furthering his recovery and, hopefully, improve the quality of his life.
Worries over money also add to the family’s burden.
Unable to work, Scott filed for Social Security Disability in March, 2011. “We are on our second appeal and still waiting,” Cali said adding that her salary as a customer service representative at Ludlow Composites Corp in Fremont makes it difficult to meet the family’s financial needs, let alone address Scott’s medical bills.
Because of Scott’s physical limitations and their financial situation, their Gibsonburg home has fallen into disrepair, so much so that if repairs aren’t made soon, the couple will lose their homeowner’s insurance.
At first, they were able to manage some of the minor issues as they arose, but couldn’t keep up with larger, more serious home maintenance and repair tasks that emerged. Determined to manage on their own, they turned down help. “We were embarrassed,” Cali said. “But, as things continued to go wrong with basic maintenance equipment, including our kitchen faucet, even doing basic cleaning became extremely difficult.
“My husband was a strong, hard-working, man,” she said. “His friends would agree that he would and did anything he could to help them. He was very mechanical; there wasn't much he couldn't do, consequently, he was one of the first they would call when they needed help.”
Friends Mark and Julie Shiffert made persistent offers of help, which the Witts always declined. Until now.
The Shifferts are reaching out to local churches, groups and individuals to help the Witt family at a work day planned for Sept. 1.
“They are wonderful people,” Mark said. “Some tough situations have been given them but anytime I see them they are all smiles and they would give you the shirts off their backs if you needed.
“We’re looking for a lot of people to come out and help,” he said. “Whether you know me or know the Witts doesn't matter.”
Volunteers are needed to help with a number of tasks, including replacing subfloor and flooring, replacing cabinetry, trimming trees (chainsaws are needed), replacing siding, installing windows, general cleanup and other tasks. “They’re also in need of a new storage shed,” Shiffert said.
Though there is much to do, Shiffert is heartened by the growing support pledged for the effort to help the family thus far.
Members of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church have pledged $500 for materials and supplies through the Thrivent Choice program.
“Additional information regarding the details of the project have been shared with Pastor Nevergall and will be passed on to the congregation this weekend,” said church member John Heminger. “I'm hopeful we can get some of our skilled members to assist with the project which will make the day more of a success.”
Members of Christ Community Church in Genoa have also pledged support and the Shifferts are also talking with other churches and local fire departments.
“I do realize that I am asking for a great deal but my belief has always been whatever we do to aim for the stars and you may very well get what you hope for,” Mark said. “I believe we can accomplish a great deal in one Saturday.”
“What Mark and his wife Julie are organizing is amazing and so far beyond my hopes and expectations,” Cali said. “I went into this hoping to get my kitchen faucet fixed and my new screen door hung.
“Mark and Julie have begun pulling this together, and it has grown to a point that words honestly fail me,” she added.
Those who would like to help may contact Mark Shiffert at email@example.com or 419-607-0125. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Witt’s home at 300 S. Wilson Street, Gibsonburg on Saturday, Sept 1 starting at 9 a.m.
Donations payable to the Scott and Cali Witt Benefit Fund may be made at any Huntington Bank branch.