A fundraiser for James Gazelle and his wife, Nora, will be held Monday.
Fundraiser to aid recent quadriplegic, 29
Friends and former co-workers of a quadriplegic Oahu man are holding a fundraiser for him Monday night at Aloha Tower Marketplace.
James Gazelle, 29, became a quadriplegic following routine back surgery in May, and is now dependent on his pregnant wife and others for his care. His wife, Nora, is expecting their first child late this month.
The Friends of James Gazelle are holding the fundraiser 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday at Don Ho's Island Grill. Gazelle is a former operations manager of Papa John's Pizza, which is organizing the event.
The Gazelles have used their retirement savings for medical expenses and a motorized wheelchair, and are paying off a loan for a modified van.
Neither of them will dwell on how his paralysis has upended their lives.
"I've never been depressed, though I've had four or five bad days," Gazelle said. "My biggest thing is to work hard (with physical therapy) and take it each day at a time. It doesn't make sense to ask why or get mad, just work to get better.
"Maybe I'm in denial ... but I hope to go back to work someday. If it takes one year or 10 years, every day I think I'm going to get better," he said.
Gazelle said he started out in life facing hardships when his mother died when he was only a year old, leaving his brother, Art, to raise him. "Our life has had so many downs. I just work hard -- that's how I get through things. That's all I know," he added.
It was the same work ethic that got him promoted to operations manager last year at Papa John's Pizza. Gazelle started out as a driver in 1999 and worked his way up through management, he added.
Now the management staff of Papa John's is organizing the fundraiser for Gazelle because he is "not just an employee, he's a friend," said Patrick Bullard, marketing director.
"James in particular did so much for schools, clubs and community groups" by helping with fundraisers through Papa John's, never thinking that he might need a fundraiser for himself one day, Bullard added.
But, Gazelle said, "I'm not big on handouts, asking people for money and charity. There are other people out there worse off than I am."
Tickets are $10 at the door or can be purchased from Papa John's employees. Donations from businesses will be used in the form of gift certificates to be auctioned at the fundraiser. Donated items are also welcome for door prizes, and arrangements can be made for pickup by calling 341-6949. Cash donations can be made at any Bank of Hawaii location under the account name Friends of James Gazelle.