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Health activist says ‘horror’ fall will not stop marriage wishes

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Russ Ford

Health activist Russ Ford has insisted that he is determined to go ahead with wedding plans after suffering an horrific fall, which has left him paralysed from the chest down.

Mr Ford is not yet sure when he will return to Bermuda from a treatment centre in Arizona, where he is undergoing intensive therapy after the accident this year.

Speaking of his fiancée, Lynnee Tanner, Mr Ford, a former Nurse of the Year, who pioneered HIV/Aids awareness and care in the 1980s, told The Royal Gazette: “We got engaged in January.

“We want to go ahead as planned because, as you can appreciate, a lot of things have changed, which means that I have to change with the flow.

“But it’s not going to stop me from the opportunity to get married; also to make sure that it’s as close to whatever dates we have set in our calendars.”

Russ Ford at his hospital in Arizona (Photograph supplied)

The comments came as donations to aid his recovery topped $91,000.

Ms Tanner said that while Mr Ford may not be able to walk again, he wants to continue to speak out and try to “inspire” others.

She said that more than $67,000 had been raised via a GoFundMe page, while another $24,000 had been donated through other events and activities supporting Mr Ford.

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.

Russ Ford and his girlfriend, Lynnee Tanner

Ms Tanner said: “Russ’s unfortunate accident has brought him to the crossroad of his life and while he may not be able to walk due to the injuries sustained as a result of a horrific fall, he will continue to use his voice to keep inspiring others.

“Part of this inspiration has led the Bermudian public to donate funds to assist with his long-term care and to purchase the necessary adaptive equipment he requires.

“During the GoFundMe initiative, which was launched on March 22, the family were pleased to report that within the first hour $10,000 was collected.

“And here we are today with the GoFundMe reflecting a total of $67,245 and an additional $24,101 raised from other funding through the generous people of Bermuda.

“The combined total to date reflects that $91,346 was collected on his behalf, and it is hoped that the balance of the goal would be attained in the near future.”

Mark Anderson, centre, captured on South Road during his charity walk to raise funds for Russ Ford (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mark Anderson, also known as the drag artist Sybil, Queen of Bermuda, highlighted the campaign with a walk from St George’s to Dockyard, 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 who is in need.

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

This story was edited on April 22 to amend the bank account.

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Published April 21, 2023 at 11:23 am (Updated April 23, 2023 at 4:06 pm)

Health activist says ‘horror’ fall will not stop marriage wishes

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