ROANOKE, Va. – Thinking back on what his wife, Christie, has been through this past year, Jason Leonard is brought to tears.
Last September, she was climbing down from a retaining wall near their Pulaski home, but when she landed, “There was a drainpipe that was covered in leaves and she didn’t see it so when she landed, her right ankle rolled and both bones went through the side of her leg,” recalled Jason.
Doctors set the bones to heal, but they became infected and the infection spread to the tissue and bone. The chances of saving her leg were slim.
On Friday, Christie had surgery to get her right leg amputated, just below the knee.
“Nobody wants to say, ‘Yeah, you know, just take my leg.’ You know, you kind of grow attached to it. You want to keep it. It’s a hard decision for someone to make to say, ’Yes, amputate my leg.’ You want to fight, but at some point you realize that there’s no fight left,” said Jason.
With bills piling up, Jason knew he wouldn’t be able to afford everything on his own.
That’s when he found the Roanoke Hospitality House and its founder, Terrianne Julian.
“We just knew immediately we have to help this family,” said Julian.
The organization paid for the Leonard family’s hotel, food and clothing while Christie is in Roanoke for her surgery.
“Just because this has happened to them and we don’t have a physical location yet, doesn’t mean we can’t do something,” said Julian.
Terrianne said when it’s eventually built, the Roanoke Hospitality House will be an affordable and comfortable short-term place for folks to stay when their loved one is in the hospital or getting medical treatment in the Roanoke Valley.
It is different from the Ronald McDonald House, which only serves families with children needing medical care.
The Roanoke Hospitality House has raised $40,000 so far, but still, needs a lot more money and a namesake donor.
In the meantime, the organization started a family fund to help others just like Jason.
“We can’t change the circumstances, we can’t change what they’re life is going to look like going forward, but we can help them through one of the worst days of their lives,” explained Julian.
Jason’s been sheltering their three young boys from what’s going on. As hard as the situation is for him, he knows it’s harder for Christie.
Without the Hospitality House, “I wouldn’t be able to manage on my own. If they wasn’t helping me I don’t know what I’d do,” said Jason.
After her surgery Friday, Christie still has a long road to recovery and Jason is trying to find the money for an electric wheelchair while she heals. He also needs to figure out how to afford to make his home wheelchair-friendly and accessible. Jason set up a GoFundMe after the accident.