Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 2004
Yes you can make a real difference
Light One Candle
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
If you know anything about The Christophers, you know that we encourage people to make a difference in the world. That's one of the messages that our founder, Maryknoll Father James Keller, worked hardest to get across: you can make a difference.
I'm always on the lookout for stories about people who do make a difference, hoping that in passing them along the example will inspire others. And I found just that kind of story in a recent issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.
It's about Rob Komosa, an Illinois teenager who was left paralyzed by a freak injury in football practice. Written by Jay Copp, the story describes the way Rob's unbreakable faith has inspired thousands of people in the greater Chicago area and beyond.
But Rob isn't the story's only hero. As Copp tells it, it took someone to get the ball rolling, someone to galvanize a community's good will and energy to provide the helping hand that Rob needed.
That someone was Deacon Don Grossnickle, whose efforts and caring concern made a difference in Rob's life - and in the lives of countless others.
Rob had the loving care of his father and mother, Stanley and Barbara Komosa, and his teenage sister, Ann, to see him through the trying months after his injury in the fall of 1999. But attempts to furnish the larger-scale help that Rob and his family needed - the specially equipped van, a sturdy ramp, dealing with medical and insurance problems - all sputtered despite the best intentions of friends and neighbours.
Enter Deacon Grossnickle, whose chance encounter with Rob's father at church led to a first "sick call" at the Komosa home.
Impressed by the young man's strength of faith, even though he was unable to move and was confined to a wheelchair, Grossnickle returned again and again. Before long he was coming by twice a day and began assisting with Rob's medical needs.
In August 2000, 10 months after the accident, Grossnickle enlisted the aid of the Christian Family Movement chapter at Our Lady of Wayside Parish in Arlington Heights, and its 130 families rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
Before long the ramp that Rob so desperately needed was completed, and he had a bridge to the outside world.
That was only the beginning. Grossnickle interested the Chicago media in Rob's story, and other miracles followed: that special-equipment van that Rob had hoped for, transportation assistance, computerized technological help of all kinds, even a new home for the Komosa family.
Fundraising efforts ranged from pizza parties to garage sales to car washes. Thousands of people, young and old alike, eventually became involved - all of them moved by Rob's story.
Meeting his everyday challenges isn't automatic, as Rob made clear. "I think I have a positive attitude," he said. "I try to be patient. I had to learn to let others help me. I get looks and stares, but that's OK. You have to take life with a smile.
"I'm doing pretty good. I have good days and bad days. This is a challenge I have to overcome."
Now, more than four years after the accident, Deacon Grossnickle is ready to take his interests a step further. Working through the Archdiocese of Chicago, he will assist Church efforts to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
He's already played a major role in changing one life.
Now he's ready to take on a wider world.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: email@example.com.)
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