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Donald and Betty's Story of Resilience and Hope

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Donald Rippy, and his partner Betty Batey, have had their share of struggles. After years of work for UPS, Betty injured her spinal cord in a car wreck on Christmas Eve 1985. She’s now in a wheelchair, paralyzed just below the arms. Donald, though, managed to avoid major injury, until December 2014.

Donald began working for his father as a brick mason as early as 14 years old. Between that, carpentry, and other labor-intensive jobs, he’s been working his whole life. He even served in the National Guard as a reservist for six years. But in December 2014, Betty found Donald face first on the concrete outside their door, lying in a pool of blood. He had fallen off their roof while doing repairs, breaking both arms, his scapula, ribs, back, and multiple bones in his face. Overall, the fall did damage to 26 bones.

Donald now suffers from severe arthritis and lacks energy. His brain was damaged during the fall, and he needs ongoing neurological therapy, as well as knee surgery. Without coverage, none of that is possible. He has applied for disability, but so far has not had any luck. Meanwhile, his partner Betty remains his passionate advocate, doing everything she can think of to get him the care he needs.

If all that wasn’t enough, in late March 2016, Donald was finally able to get a two-year-old large mole removed from his side, courtesy of the Health Department. But the biopsy determined it was cancerous. The Health Department scheduled Donald an appointment at Vanderbilt to find out if the cancer has spread. However, the appointment isn’t until May 10. By then, it could be too late.

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