From Family keeps power, disabled daughter alive (News-Herald, 11/14/08):
Hiland Park, FL — A family on the brink of losing their electricity, vital to the survival of their 5-year-old daughter, received enough donations by Friday morning to pay their overdue Gulf Power bill and keep the power on.
The Duncans owed about $2,000 to Gulf Power, and with no payment recorded since July, the company scheduled disconnection for 11 a.m. Friday unless the family paid up. Tony Duncan chained himself to the electricity meter outside the home Thursday to thwart the cutoff.
The situation was so dire Thursday because the Duncans’ adopted daughter, Makayla, has numerous medical conditions that require electrically operated equipment. Her parents worried about Makayla’s survival if the power was cut.
But before the 11 a.m. deadline, donors stepped forward.
One of the donors was Dawn Amora, the adoptive mother of Marissa Amora, the young Marianna girl who is receiving a structured, multimillion-dollar settlement from the state after child welfare workers returned her to an abusive home that left her mentally and physically crippled.
“Whatever the reason (for the Duncan family’s past-due bill), the child shouldn’t have to suffer,” Amora said.
Amora said she paid $732 of the balance, and that came out of her savings, not Marissa’s account. She said she will also try to pay for some tracheal devices the Duncans’ daughter needs every month. The Duncan family declined to identify who paid the rest of the outstanding balance.
However, another donor was Nations Real Estate, which provided $2,000.
“We know times are hard and everybody’s experiencing difficulty,” said Darren Haiman, a broker/salesman at Nations Real Estate. “When you see a story like this, you just feel compelled to act on it, so we did.
“It’s really about doing the right thing.”
Residents still were offering to assist after the $2,000 bill was paid. While the family was speaking to The News Herald on Friday morning, retired police officer Tom Brookie dropped off $100 in cash to the family, which they said will go toward future bills.
“We never wanted a handout. It’s embarrassing to go through this,” said David Hutchinson, Kathy Duncan’s son and Tony’s stepson.
Gulf Power spokesman Jeff Rogers said Thursday the family had not made payments since July, and they were given a 35-day extension because of the medical situation. The parents, who are raising four other boys, were in the same predicament at this time last year, Rogers said. But after The News Herald and other local media highlighted the case, an anonymous donor covered the outstanding balance so the family could keep power.
Tony Duncan said he has been out of work for more than a year because he had several strokes and seizures. He said he has been unable to collect unemployment or find a new job because of his medical setbacks.
Kathy Duncan said she cleans houses, but work has been slow in the downturn economy.
Nice to see the community coming to this family’s assistance. To watch the video, click here.
I liked what the father said: he worked since he was 15 and and always paid taxes to the government, but the moment he needs help–through no fault of his own–the government isn’t there.