Rick Jarosz is a 42-year-old single dad raising his 11-year-old son in a suburb of Buffalo. He's an upstanding member of the community and volunteers with the local school to help teach kids to read. Seventeen years ago, Jarosz was injured in a forklift accident at work that left him barely able to walk. His 2012 Ford Escape was specially equipped with hand controls so he could operate the vehicle.
According to WGRZ in Buffalo, his vehicle was stolen along with his scooter last week, leaving Jarosz without transportation. "He stole my lifeline," Jarosz told the TV station. "He stole my ability to go to the park with my son, to take my son to hockey practice, to go to the grocery store, or to hang out with my son at the bus stop for his first day of middle school coming up next week."
More from WGRZ:
The process of getting an insurance check for the vehicle and equipment could take up to a month to begin, as the insurance company allows time for the possible recovery of the vehicle.
After our story aired, WGRZ-TV received numerous e-mails and phone calls from viewers wishing to help, with everything from offering Jarosz rides, to gently used scooters... even offers of quiet money, which we shared with him, so that he can get in contact with those good Samaritans for whom he is most appreciative.
"It says that Buffalo's a great community," Jarosz told Channel 2. "They are always there willing to help people and I am very grateful and appreciative of all the offers that you have gotten and all the phone calls that I have gotten from friends I went to high school with that I haven't seen in years. They've been calling me out of the blue and offering to help me. It's a great feeling." In the meantime, a local auto dealership has provided Jarosz a Ford Explorer and a driver to get him around, since the vehicle isn't fitted with the necessary controls. Patrick Kaleta, a native of Buffalo and a member of the Sabres known for playing on the edge, also heard about Jarosz's situation and offered to provide his own help. Kaleta's HITS Foundation (Helping Individuals To Smile) is stepping up to provide Jarosz a rental van equipped with the hand controls he needs to drive himself and his son around. Kaleta also visited Jarosz and, true to his foundation's name, he helped them smile.
Kaleta, whose 2013-14 season was shortened due to a leg injury, gets a big assist for this.
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