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Looking out for 'Number One': Benefit Committee helping man who refuses to let disability slow him down

 

Bobby Wilson sits on his front porch at 10th Avenue and 18th Street North on Tuesday. The Community Benefit Committee is hosting an event on Saturday, to raise money to complete wheelchair-accessible renovations to his aging home.

Bobby Wilson sits on his front porch at 10th Avenue and 18th Street North on Tuesday. The Community Benefit Committee is hosting an event on Saturday, to raise money to complete wheelchair-accessible renovations to his aging home. Photo by: Hannah Greco/Dispatch Staff

 

Julie Parker

Julie Parker

 

 

Hannah Greco/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Thirty years ago, Columbus resident Bobby Wilson was diagnosed with diabetes. In 2002, the disease caused his left leg to be amputated.  

 

Despite that obstacle, Wilson gets on his riding lawn mower once a week and tends to the yard at his church -- Stephens Chapel Baptist Church -- located three blocks from his home at 10th Avenue and 18th Street North. 

 

"He's always been involved (with the church)," said the Rev. Joe L. Peoples, who has pastored Stephens Chapel for more than 45 years. "I was amazed when I came out here and he was riding a mower. I know he didn't have but one leg but he mows the lawn real well." 

 

Wilson said there's nothing to it. 

 

"I have a riding mower and I got a stick. ... I push down on the crank and mow the yard," Wilson said. 

 

McArthur Dawkins, a member of SCBC and friend of Wilson's, says Wilson's perseverance is inspiring.  

 

"Most people in his situation we would call handicapped," Dawkins said. "We don't call him that. ... We call him 'Number One' ... because he does what he does and doesn't ask for anything in return."  

 

Wilson may not ask, but if the Community Benefit Committee has its way, he will receive some help soon. 

 

In partnership with Lowe's, the committee is hosting a fundraiser from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Sim Scott Park for needed repairs to Wilson's aging home. The event -- which will offer fish and barbeque plates for $10 each -- will help purchase materials to upgrade wheelchair accessibility outside Wilson's home, and Lowe's has already significantly completed interior renovations for accessibility and weatherization. 

 

While the benefit committee normally raises funds for projects specific to helping police, firefighters and their families, chairperson Julie Parker said the committee branched out and sought nominations for other community members in need for a special impact project. 

 

Dawkins, when he heard about the project, immediately put Wilson's name in the running. 

 

"There is no one I can think of that is more deserving of this than him," Dawkins said. "He loves everybody. He'll do anything for anybody that needs it." 

 

Parker said Wilson was an obvious choice. 

 

"(Bobby) had not had a lot of resources and had not been able to have his home renovated to the degree that he needed (in order for) it to be accessible for him to live there comfortably," Parker said. 

 

Once the money is raised, committee members have scheduled June 29 and 30 as work days for the renovations. The committee is asking for volunteers to help with the work.  

 

Wilson appreciates the help and said the work inside his home has already made it much easier for him to get around. 

 

But for the man who has continued to mow, and even drive himself, Wilson will take other obstacles he may face in stride -- refusing, as much as he can, to let his disability slow him down.  

 

"I keep going," he said. 

 

For more information or to sign up to volunteer, call Parker at 601-606-8582 or Rhonda Sanders at 662-549-5909.

 

 

 

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