Thomas “Buck” Caouette is a 39-year-old Worcester resident living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which has left him paralyzed and dependent on a ventilator. Buck is unable to speak and communicates using a specialized computer that tracks his eye movement to spell out words, phrases and sentences.
Buck’s dream was to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony in Attleboro on May 31. He didn’t think it would be possible because of complications with his medical equipment, along with the challenge of finding transportation that could accommodate him. Still, Buck, who lives at Wingate at Worcester, a local skilled nursing facility, took a chance and wrote out a message to his respiratory therapist, Jayne Stacy: Is there any way I could go to my daughter’s graduation?
Knowing how important this event was to Buck, Jayne and Wingate certified nursing assistant Leo Goodwin volunteered to accompany him on his journey to monitor his ventilator and take care of his various needs. The real challenge was finding transportation. Staff at Wingate made many phone calls to various organizations and transportation companies with no luck. They knew it would cost thousands of dollars to have an ambulance transport Buck, but with nowhere else to turn, they called Vital Emergency Medical Services and told them Buck’s story. In an act of sheer kindness, the ambulance provider agreed to transport Buck to and from his daughter’s graduation free of charge.
Thanks to the staff at Wingate and Vital Emergency Medical Services, Buck was able to attend his daughter’s graduation, watch her accept her diploma on stage, and shower her in gifts and flowers.