Fundraising effort for Russ Ford hits the gas
Bucket collections have started at Esso gas stations to help the health activist Russ Ford to deal with the aftermath of a fall that has left him paralysed from the chest down.
JoAnne Dean-Armstrong, a friend and fellow former Nurse of the Year, organised the fundraising effort for Mr Ford as she urged other businesses to join in.
Ms Dean-Armstrong told The Royal Gazette: “I have known Russ for ever. He has done so much for Bermuda, I just wanted to do a little something for him.
“As a nurse, I know how much of a challenge what he is going through is. People in Bermuda are very warm. I know they want to help Russ.
“I am so grateful for Esso letting us do this in their gas stations. I hope other businesses, supermarkets, places like that, will also get involved.
“Lindo’s let us do a collection there, which was great, some nurses took part — May is nurses month, so it is good for people to remember that.
“Russ has always helped me. I think we should help him.”
Mr Ford is in hospital in Arizona, in the United States, where he is undergoing intensive therapy after his accident this year.
While Mr Ford has medical insurance, his family and friends have set a target of raising $200,000 to help with long-term care, such as the need for a specialist, motorised wheelchair.
Mr Ford’s fiancée, Lynnee Tanner, said that while he may not be able to walk again, he wants to continue to speak out and try to “inspire” others.
More than $71,000 had been raised via a GoFundMe page, while another $24,000 had been donated through other events and activities supporting Mr Ford.
Mark Anderson, also known as the drag artist Sybil, Queen of Bermuda, highlighted the campaign with a walk from St George’s to Dockyard last month, which boosted the fundraising effort.
While campaigning for greater help and support for people dealing with HIV/Aids, Mr Ford, who was also a probation officer, founded Bermuda’s first hospice, Agape House.
The facility still operates as a respite for anyone in need.
Mr Ford has told The Royal Gazette that he intends to go ahead with his wedding plans when he returns to the island.
He said he was very grateful and touched by the support he is getting in Bermuda.
• Donations can be made via HSBC account number 010 246971 011