ORANGE COUNTY - by Kalie Desimone/KFDM News -
"I have a good faith in God, and if he wants me to be in a wheelchair, then that's where I'll be and there must be a plan in there somewhere."
Don Anderson has spent many years helping children. Now, he's facing one of the toughest challenges of his life, with the support of his school district and his family.
Surgery to remove a tumor has left Anderson paralyzed from the waist down. He's not sure he'll walk again, but the Little Cypress-Mauriceville school board president isn't facing the obstacle alone.
The community is rallying around the leader many call a profile in courage. He's slowly adapting and preparing to face the future no matter what it holds.
Don Anderson uses a tool he calls a grabber to reach a cup from the top shelf of a cabinet and fill it with water to drink.
"It's been a big lifestyle change," said Anderson.
A change that has left him confined to a wheelchair.
"I get down sometimes, but you kind of go along with the cards you are dealt."
It started with surgery in May of this year to remove a tumor from his spine. Doctors told Anderson the operation was a success.
"It wasn't immediate. It was gradually over a three day period."
But a virus entered his system, likely through an incision. Within three days it stole Anderson's ability to walk.
"I keep going and I hope to walk again, but in the meantime, I'm preparing to finish out my life in a wheelchair if I have to."
Anderson can't help but dream of one more chance to walk, run or swim.
"Do things with my wife, with my sons, with my grand baby."
For now, he's clinging to a positive outlook and those who are supporting him.
"With that many people praying for me, it would be hard to understand if I don't walk again, but if God wants me to stay in this chair, I'm sure there's a purpose."
Don Anderson says one of his hospital bills totaled more than $250,000 before insurance.
If you'd like to help Anderson and his family with medical expenses, an account has been set up at Sabine Federal Credit Union on Strickland Drive in Orange.
There's also a raffle with a riding lawnmower as a prize. If you would like to participate in the raffle for a riding mower to help raise money for his medical expenses, call Marlene Courmier at 409-920-2064.