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Health campaigner says he can feel Bermuda’s love

Russ Ford and sister Gaynell Hayward-Caesar at his Arizona rehab centre (Photograph supplied)

The health activist Russ Ford, who is recovering in Arizona from a serious fall that left him paralysed from the chest down, has said that he can “feel the love” from Bermuda despite being so far away.

Mr Ford, a former Nurse of the Year, was responding to continuing fundraising efforts to help him when he returns to Bermuda in the near future.

So far, almost $100,000 has been raised by supporters and well-wishers, which is half the amount friends and family set as their goal.

Speaking from the United States, where he is undergoing intensive therapy in a specialist hospital unit, Mr Ford said: “Thanks, Bermuda. I feel the love.”

In the latest money-raising drive, $3,500 was collected in a day at a branch of Lindo’s and the Speciality Inn restaurant.

Esso has allowed bucket collections at its gas stations for Mr Ford, who also has a GoFundMe page.

JoAnne Dean-Armstrong, a friend and fellow former Nurse of the Year, has been organising some of the fundraising efforts for Mr Ford.

Ms Dean-Armstrong told The Royal Gazette: “There is love in Bermuda and we are trying to tap into it.

“He has friends and a beautiful family to help keep his spirits up, but as someone who’s been a medical professional for a long time, I know how expensive things are.

“A specialist bed can be $28,000, for instance.

“Bermuda is expensive anyway, but once you start adding on specialist medical costs then that’s big money right there.

“But people in Bermuda are very generous and we have had a lot of support.”

Though 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 has said he is determined to go ahead with plans to marry his fiancée, Lynnee Tanner, when he returns to the island.

The activist came into the public eye in the 1980s when he campaigned tirelessly for better understanding and care for people dealing with HIV and Aids in Bermuda.

Mr Ford gave talks across the island on the importance of help for people living with HIV.

Mr Ford, who also worked as a probation officer, founded Bermuda’s first hospice, Agape House, and the facility still operates as a respite for anyone in need.

• Donations can be made via HSBC account number 010 246971 011

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Published May 31, 2023 at 7:51 am (Updated May 31, 2023 at 7:48 am)

Health campaigner says he can feel Bermuda’s love

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