Looking for help - for Rusty
From the Journal Sentinel
Last Updated: Aug. 12, 2001
If he were human, Rusty the service dog would easily qualify as one of Monday's People.

The golden retriever's been a godsend to Vicky Lasch, who suffered a spinal cord injury in her youth that put her in a wheelchair. For seven years, Rusty's been a vital part of Vicky's independence.

He picks up objects, turns lights on and off. He's gone with her to the movies, restaurants, even to classes when she was in college.

But now Rusty needs help. He's got cancer and it requires about $5,000 worth of treatment that Vicky can't afford. An animal rights group has pledged $3,000 toward the effort, but that still leaves Rusty about two grand short.

"He's given me the self-confidence that I didn't have before," says Vicky, an advocate for the Brown County Association for Retarded Citizens and an accounting assistant for Options for Independent Living Inc. of Green Bay. "He's my good friend, he's like my bud. I can't imagine not having him with me."

You can help Rusty and Vicky by sending donations to: Account for Rusty the Service Dog, c/o Wells Fargo Bank of Wisconsin N.A., P.O. Box 2057, Milwaukee, WI 53201-9836.

A grateful mom
Cyndy Nowacki of Waterford wants to thank all the folks who came to her baby boy's aid when she accidentally locked the little tyke inside her car at the Burlington Kmart on a blistering hot day.

There's the guy on the motorcycle who zipped by, told the store to call 911 and let Cyndy use his cell phone. Then there was the woman who went into the store to make sure 911 was actually called. And the store employee who comforted the terrified Cyndy while they waited for help.

"When you think about it, it doesn't take long for them to get hot and sweaty," Cyndy said of her 10-week-old son, Benjamin.

Drenched in sweat, little Benjamin was freed by Burlington police after about 15 minutes.

"I don't have anyone's names, but THANK YOU to everyone who was concerned and helped me," a grateful Cyndy says. "Thank you for taking the time to help someone you didn't know."

Choosing a full life
An all-terrain vehicle accident left Heidi Evans an angry, paralyzed from the waist down 15-year-old girl with two choices.

"You either deal with it or you don't," says Heidi, now 28. "I decided to deal with it."

Her anger sparked a will in the Slinger native that's helped her achieve more, she feels, than she probably would have if the accident never happened. She earned her degree and became an occupational therapist. She's a member advocate at Independent Care Inc. in Milwaukee, a volunteer peer counselor at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin and competed in the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant.

She came in sixth, as did "everyone who didn't place," she says. But she didn't go there to win. She went there to share in the experiences of other women who, despite a bad hand dealt by fate, still strive to live full and complete lives.

"It truly wasn't a beauty contest, but if you're looking at what's inside a person, perhaps it was," Heidi says.

Asked at the pageant if she'd take a "magic pill" that could make her walk again, Heidi said: "If such a pill would return me to the point I was before I was injured, I wouldn't have had the experiences that I have had, or the accomplishments, and I wouldn't give that up for anything."

Heidi's now the coordinator for the Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin program, which will hold a pageant each year to select a Wisconsin delegate in the national program next year in Maryland. Interested women can e-mail her at mschairwi@yahoo.com.


Know anyone whose done or is trying to do something good for somebody else? Contact Jesse Garza at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0371 or e-mail him at jgarza@onwis.com.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Aug. 13, 2001