Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man who inspires other in nursing home given new wheelchair

DADE CITY — When Danny Bush, a double amputee, first arrived at Heritage Park Nursing Center in November, his first question was how he could help other residents.

Now every Monday through Saturday, the 49-year-old sorts and hand delivers mail sent to residents at the nursing center. He rides in a wheelchair from room to room doling out hugs and handshakes along with the mail, even stopping to read letters to those with vision problems.

"One person can lift the atmosphere of a whole place," said activities director Nila Premer. "He hasn't had the easiest life, and he still lifts us all up."

While Bush, disabled at age 24 in a car accident, always has plenty of smiles and kind words to offer his neighbors at Heritage Park, what he didn't have was an operable wheelchair. His 5-year-old, manually operated model was highly uncomfortable and difficult to navigate.

"I couldn't recline or support myself in the chair," he said. "Sometimes a part would fall off of the chair. I'd pick it up, put it back on and keep going."

Bush's parents, Sandra and Owen Bush of Dade City, raised money to help repair their son's chair, but as the repairs kept coming and costs mounted, both they and Heritage Park staff members realized a new chair was needed.

"Danny would get down sometimes," said Sandra Bush. "And a bad day for Danny is a bad day for everybody else. He lifts everyone's spirits."

A May Pasco Times story detailed Bush's volunteer work at Heritage Park, mentioning his need for a new chair to facilitate his daily rounds. The story prompted Heritage Park's parent company, Gulf Coast Health Care LLC, to give Bush a new, electronically operated wheelchair valued at $3,900.

Working in collaboration with Jeffrey Ward, administrator of Heritage Park, Gulf Coast purchased the chair from Marc's Mobility in Lakeland. Gulf Coast covered the full cost of the chair, with no assistance available from government or insurance programs.

Kathleen Wesolowski, director of operations at Gulf Coast, was on hand last week to help present the chair to Bush.

"The funds that we have to provide wheelchairs for our residents are few and far between, with legislative funding for nursing care centers always on the chopping block," she said. "But Craig Robinson, president of Gulf Coast LLC, saw Danny's story in the Times and was so touched. We knew we had to help this man who helps our residents."

On Wednesday afternoon in a room normally reserved for bingo, the staff gathered near a banner for Bush that hovered just above his new wheelchair. Some of the nurses started yelling out bingo calls to give the impression that a game was under way.

Finally Bush entered the room flanked by his parents, his eyes flying wide as patients and staff members cheered his name.

Then he saw the chair at the head of the room.

"I can't believe it," he said, fighting back tears. "Thank you all so very much."

Then he took a test drive.

"One year when I was a teen-ager, my folks got me a '67 Mustang as a present," he said as he cruised down the hallway. "I think that just about matches this gift."

The chair, Bush said, would mean less pain and more ease of movement for him, especially during his daily mail runs and during his stints as a volunteer Bible school teacher at Dade City Christian Church. And according to Dr. Thomas Edwards, Bush's physician, the benefits of this new chair will enhance and improve his patient's life.

"For an active person like Danny, this chair will mean increased mobility," he said. "And chairs like this are good for a patient's psychology as well."

In the eyes of Ward, the chair is a fitting gift for a patient who has brought far more than mail to Heritage Park residents.

"He's always greeting other residents, talking to them and hearing their stories," he said. "He encourages them to … come to the activities we have here, and he encourages them in life."

"Danny brings joy to us," he said. "He inspires us."

Man who inspires other in nursing home given new wheelchair 09/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 7:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  2. In Twitter rant, Bucs' Gerald McCoy says he's unappreciated


    Gerald McCoy is feeling underappreciated again. He says somebody has crossed the line this time. He's speaking out and suggesting he might be gone "soon enough" from Tampa Bay.

    Photo Illustration RON BORRESEN   |   Photo by LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 
Gerald McCoy may be upset that Ronde Barber said a defensive leader “has to have a huge personality’’ like Warren Sapp’s. Monday, Barber walked that back.
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Photo gallery: Nine years later, library attack victim Queena works at learning to walk again


    Slowly, Queena Phu is learning the act of walking again through exercises in locomotion, strength and balance.
    She practiced her steps once again Monday afternoon with trainer-technician Mike Lopez at the nonprofit Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center near the University of South Florida.
    Queena …

    Activity based exercise trainer George Palang, 33, and trainer technician Mike Lopez, 22, help Queena Phu during physical therapy at the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center on Monday, July 24, 2017, in Tampa, Fla.
  5. Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"


    The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.