Firefighers donate van, wheelchair
With emotions right on the surface, Cathy Kurtz watches the ceremony with her daughter Addie, 6 and son, Jackson, 8, as the Wilmette Fire Associates donates a van with a wheelchair ramp at Cunliff Park in Glenview on Tuesday, September 4, 2012. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
The article, “No charges filed in boy’s drowning,” that appeared on page 10 in the Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, edition of the Glenview Announcements about the June 15 drowning of a Glenview boy contained a factual error.
It should have said that teachers from Wesley Child Care were in the pool watching the children after leaving their towels on a nearby grassy area.
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:13PM
GLENVIEW — The timing could not have been worse four years ago for Dave Kurtz and his Glenview family.
About the same time he lost his advertising job with the Christian Science Monitor — the daily newspaper was replaced by a weekly magazine — his daughter was diagnosed with a severe degenerative neurological disorder.
Since November, Kurtz has worked the 4 a.m. shift at Starbucks on East Lake Avenue. His part-time hours allow more time to care for 6-year-old, Addie, who can’t talk or walk and must be fed through a tube.
His wife, Cathleen, is a teacher and director of Barbereux preschool in Evanston.
“This has been a huge adjustment. I never thought I would be out of work from a whole career. I had no job for three and a half years,” Kurtz said. “We’ve been eating up our savings.”
When resident Ben Wozney, a lieutenant with the Wilmette Fire Department, learned of the family’s plight, he organized a fundraiser through the Wilmette Firefighters Association.
On the night of Sept. 4, after two months of collecting donations, the firefighters gave a wheelchair-accessible van to the Kurtz at a presentation in Glenview’s Cunliff Park.
Bought from Bredemann Ford at a discount, the used vehicle cost $8,000.
“We feel like we owe the community something,” Cathleen said. “They’ve touched my heart.”
Wozney met Kurtz at Flick Park, where both their daughters would visit and play.
“Dave was overjoyed when he found out about the van. It’s very difficult to care for special needs child with limited funds,” Wozney said.
Kurtz recalled when Wozney showed him a picture of the van, he asked him if it was for sale because he wanted to buy it.
“He said, ‘No, it’s yours.’ I called my wife and could hardly tell her.”
Addie attends classes at Romona Elementary School in Wilmette and undergoes different therapies three days a week. Because she is growing, Kurtz said lifting her in and out of her wheelchair into a vehicle is difficult, especially since he broke his elbow New Year’s Eve morning while rollerblading in Wilmette with his son, Jackson.
“They cut the bone out and replaced it with stainless steel. I couldn’t use my arm,” said Kurtz, 53.
“Addie was at the maximum weight for the car seat. It was a lot of backbreaking work. My wife couldn’t do it anymore,” Kurtz said.
Addie’s teacher at Romona, Stephanie Hahn, said she is a fast learner.
“You always know what she’s thinking,” Hahn said. “She has a great memory and loves learning. She can communicate verbally and uses a voice output box.”
The Glenview Firefighters Association also participated in raising money for the wheelchair.
“We make a lot of contributions to local charities — schools and disabled firefighters and soldiers,” Glenview Fire Lt. Jim Sincox said.