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Monday, November 30, 2015

Thankful

It is easy to overlook the generosity and kindness of our community, especially for those of us who've been here a long time and have seen both good and bad times.
Recently, though, I was reminded of our community's generosity. It was something I should have known from personal experience, of course, since the community has been unfailingly generous to my family and me. I remember the many acts of kindness towards us when my father passed away, and, earlier, when our print shop suffered a fire. But even in small things the community has supported us with kindness and cheer since we arrived here in 1961.
The most recent reminder, though, came after the accident suffered by a member of our print shop crew, Clayton Gartman.
Mr. Gartman, for those who do not know the story, was riding his bicycle here September 17th when he was struck by an automobile. He was actually on the sidewalk of the Water Street bridge near Gibson's and Mosty's Garage, and the driver drove up on the sidewalk and hit Mr. Gartman.
It's a miracle he survived the accident. His injuries ranged from a fractured skull to a broken pelvis, with broken bones most places in between. Worse, his vision was damaged, and may never fully return.
Clayton Gartman, before accident,
at the print shop, with injured bird.
After 42 days in two different hospitals, Mr. Gartman was able to go home.
Modifications were needed for the home: he was now in a wheelchair, and he could not see. Hundreds of people responded with offers to help and with donations. The work on the home continues, mostly with volunteer labor and donated materials.
Transportation, too, was an issue. Mr. Gartman has frequent medical appointments in San Antonio. A kind family here donated a car to the Gartmans, and others have provided funds to pay for gas and insurance for the vehicle, so his family can drive him to the doctors' offices. Mr. Gartman's brother, in particular, has been a great help driving him to his many appointments.
Donations have come from hundreds of people and from around the state. Every donation really helps. His entire family has told me many times how thankful they are for this community.
The Kerrville Daily Times has done an excellent job of telling the story of the accident and also of Mr. Gartman's journey after the accident. People come up to me whenever I'm in public and ask how "that young bicyclist" is doing, largely from reading the stories which have run in this newspaper.
Here's an update: he's doing better. He still has vision impairment, and he still uses his wheelchair, though he's spending more time on a walker when he can. One thing that's been consistent, though, even in the darkest days when he was in the ICU at San Antonio Military Medical Center: his optimistic outlook. During our many visits it was obvious Mr. Gartman was looking on the positive side of things.
Despite his many injuries one thing was not hurt at all: his sense of humor.
Before the accident Mr. Gartman spent much of his free time playing music with friends. With the cast off of his arm, he's beginning to play his guitar, again. Other pursuits, such as art and woodworking, are still on hold until his vision improves.
Fundraising continues for Mr. Gartman and his family; donations can be sent to the Clayton Gartman Fund, in care of our print shop, 615 Water Street, Kerrville.  You can also donate online, by clicking HERE.
I'm thankful for our community -- and to those who've helped in this situation, and in so many others.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is thankful.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 28, 2015.




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