David Lee Nunes Jr. is facing a tough decision.
His friends and family believe that he needs to give up his livestock as well as working in his vegetable gardens and flower beds on his five-acre hobby farm in the foothills east of Fresno.
That’s because the condition of the retired Army captain — who sustained injuries during a military accident while he was preparing to ship out again to Afghanistan — has deteriorated to the point it is getting almost impossible to take his manual wheelchair up a very steep incline to his barn.
But if Manteca resident Irene Godinez and a small army of volunteers have anything to say about it, Nunes will continue to be able to perform most of his daily chores with little or no help.
Godinez is part of the non-profit Bridge to Change. The group is staging its second annual United We Stand golf tournament on Friday, Sept. 9, at the Manteca Golf Course in a bid to raise $15,000 needed to buy Nunes a Tracker Chair — a motorized wheelchair that runs on tracks similar to those found on tanks allowing the user to navigate everything from steep inclines and sandy beaches and even terrain to hunt and fish.
The group last year raised money to make it possible for Fidel Bobadilla — an Army soldier from Hanford seriously injured in Afghanistan — to receive a $15,000 Tracker Chair. The gift has allowed Bobadilla to maneuver about his two acre property in Hanford with his children as well as do numerous chores.
Godinez said when was presented his Tracker Chair at last year’s tournament, golfers teared up when the wounded soldier broke into a smile saying how happy he was to be able to be mobile again.
What motivates Godinez is simple.
“There are soldiers who gave their time and sacrificed for us,” she said.
Prior to last year’s tournament some golfers talked about backing out because the forecast called for it to be one of the hottest days of the year.
“I thought to myself here were guys who carried about 60 pounds of gear without any shade in sight on days that were even hotter and were putting their lives on the line for us yet some of us had problems with venturing out on a hot day with plenty of water and golf carts to ride in so we could help (those who served and were injured),” Godinez recalled.
Both Bobadilla and Nunes are expected to be at the Sept. 9 golf tournament that starts with registration at 11:30 a.m. with the tee time at 12:30 p.m. The four-person scramble has a $125 per player entry fee.
Godinez and other volunteers are seeking players, sponsors, raffle items and volunteers to assist with the tournament. Additional information can be found at www.unitedwestandgolf.com or contacting Godinez at 209.808.2550 or at email@example.com.
Nunes started his military service in 1986 and retired in 2001.
He was completely paralyzed for two years after his accident.
“With physical therapy, hard work, and the grace of God, I regained my ability to walk again, but my days of standing and walking are coming to an end and I will once again become wheelchair bound,” Nunes wrote. “Recent MRIs have given proof that my back is deteriorating rapidly and, unfortunately, surgery will not correct or reverse this progression.”
Two of his vertebrae are turning into “Swiss cheese” due to the lack of blood circulation and his age. His spinal cord has started to swell which, in turn interferes with his motor skills. he is now earing leg braces and walks with a straight cane. On difficult days he has no choice but to use his wheelchair.
He noted friends and family that want him to give up his livestock and yard chores “mean no harm and merely want what is best for me, but my livestock and gardens are my saving grace. They give me purpose to get out of bed and face the day and work through the chronic pain that I suffer on a daily basis.”
Nunes tried out a track chair at his most recent evaluation in Palo Alto. During that time he was able to test drive its capabilities including the ability to stand up straight to do chores such as trim trees.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org