Jackson County resident, Ripley coach needs new wheelchair for better outdoor mobility.

During a regular meeting of Jackson County Commission last week, commissioners received a request for the use of the courthouse lawn. Until an explanation was given for the purpose of the request, no one knew how important the approval was for one Jackson County resident.

Lynn Camp is the mother of 27-year-old Chris Smith, who suffered from sudden illnesses as a newborn that changed his life.

Said Camp, “He was born 2 1/2 months early and he weighed 4 lbs., 9 1/2 oz. and was 17 inches long. When he was 10 days old, his nurse had to leave his side to save the life of another baby. While she was with the other baby, Chris pulled his vent out and had two strokes. The doctor said there was no hope but his nurse wouldn’t give up and saved his life.”

Many residents might recognize Smith from the sidelines as part of the Ripley High School football coaching staff. He is in desperate need of a new wheelchair that will help him continue to be more independent.

Chris was diagnosed with mild mental impairment and spastic cerebral palsy. But although he has many difficulties, Smith not only received his West Virginiastate license for coaching but holds down a job sorting plastic for Toyota and CPR recycling in addition to shredding documents for Jackson General Hospital.
He stated that even though he has a job, he thinks of football 90 percent of the time.
Said Smith, “Football is my favorite sport to coach. My next favorite is baseball. I do this because I wanted to feel like I was helping the kids since I was never able to play sports like my brother and cousins.
“If it wasn’t for Frank Marino, I would have never been able to start my coaching career. This is my 11th year and Coach Tennant and Coach Casto have made me feel like I’m at home and part of the team.”
According to his mother, Chris requires 24-hour care and assistance with doing even minor tasks that many folks take for granted.
Explained his mother, “There’s things that he needs help doing like eating, bathing and dressing. He has not been able to stand since 2007 other than transfers. He has flipped over numerous times in different wheelchairs and it’s really difficult to get him back up.”
Camp stated that the chair she is trying to raise money for is wider, moves at a slower speed, and is designed to go outside. The cost of the chair is a whopping $20,000.
Said Camp, “I have managed to raise $116.00. He needs to continue to have activities other than just sitting inside the house. This chair would allow him to go outside to the ball games, fishing, take a trip or to just sit and enjoy the sunshine without the fear of flipping over. The chair would also lift him up into a standing position so he can walk while standing or just stand. Standing is very healthy for his heart, and that is something that can’t be done without the chair. This chair would Chris independence, confidence, the feeling of fitting in as an individual as well as heart health benefits.”
There will be a community Cruzin’ on October 5 on the Jackson County Courthouse Lawn from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The event will feature a bike and car show, silent auctions and music.
For more information call Lynn Camp at (304)-514-2403 or (304)-941-7181.