By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Basic needs for Hughie
By Beth Volpert Johansen

Taking a shower is something most people take for granted. But for one young man, getting a shower was impossible until the Rotary Club of Loganville met one of his very special needs. Meeting Hughie Logan’s needs takes a great deal of effort, but has been made easier by the Rotarians.

According to his grandmother, Sheila Logan, getting through each day is not a struggle, it is a miracle. “He was not supposed to live a week, then a year, let alone all the way to his high school graduation,” says Sheila. “He is a miracle...my little miracle.” 

Left: Hard work done by the Rotarians helped complete the jobs. Photo courtesy of Loganville Rotary

Rotary Club of Loganville member, Chet Fowler is the Director of The Ministry Village. It came to his attention through one of the counselors that there was a medically fragile child living in a single-wide modular home nearby who needed help. The child had suffered paralysis during a surgery meant to correct a severe curvature of his spine. With many other congenital medical conditions, caring for Hughie in the single-wide modular home was hard, but the widowed grandmother took everything in stride while battling her own cancer, being forced to sell her Lawrenceville home, and caring for her husband, Don, through his cancer and the automobile accident that eventually claimed his life in 2011. While Sheila and Hughie had been dealt a series of very difficult events, nothing stopped the 68 year-old grandmother from caring for her “little miracle.” “I am amazed that through all of the adversity they have endured, they have not allowed bitterness to creep into their lives,” says Chet. “They maintain a positive attitude, which is a true testament to their faith.”

Right: One of Sheila's favorite pictures of her late husband and Hughie as a young boy. Photo by Beth Volpert Johansen

Sheila goes on to talk about the special relationship Hughie and his grandfather shared. “Hughie lost his grandfather who he was especially close to in 2011.” says Sheila. “Right after that, in September, this happened to him-he had had a stroke in his spinal column.” She describes life with Hughie as lots of fun and says he is a joy to be with. She also says he doesn’t ask for much. He didn’t actually ask for his own room or the big television that helps keep him entertained on long days in bed, or for anything other than a bathroom so he could take a bath. “He wanted to have some privacy to take a bath and feel clean all over,” says Sheila. “Other than that, that’s probably all he’s ever asked for.” 

Hughie’s daily needs include maintaining his ventilator and trach tube, feeding, toileting, medication, and myriad other acts of care which all get done with the help of a nurse and homebound teacher. Despite some help, the hardest thing to accomplish turned out to be the simple act of bathing. The home was not equipped for a wheelchair and Hughie had not had a “real” shower or bath in more than three years. His nurse bathed him in his hospital bed, but Hughie longed for the ability to take a shower.

“We see difficult situations all the time, but this need was overwhelming” says Chet. “One of our counselors, Jervon Hamilton, a former noseguard for South Carolina State, came to me and wanted to know if we could do anything to help Hughie.” Chet took the case to the Rotary Club which was all it took to make things happen for Hughie and his grandmother. When interviewed about his work with the boy who calls him “BFF”, Jervon said, “If you get to know them, I think that you will fall in love with them.” 

Left: Work by member of the Loganville Rotary Club on the Logan home. Photo courtesy of Loganville Rotary

Rotarians with and without construction skills did fall in love with the Logans and signed on to make a difference in the lives of a young man and his grandmother. “Originally, we wanted to raise enough funds to purchase a handicap accessible doublewide trailer, but the cost was prohibitive,” says Chet. “We developed a floor plan and began demolition of the existing bath and reframed the bath and bedroom.” A crew of skilled volunteers plumbed, wired, drywalled and tiled the handicap accessible, roll-in shower and then finished off Hughie’s new bedroom. “This project, contracted out would have probably cost between $12,000 and $15,000,” says Rotarian John Sauers. “Members of the club provided the majority of the work with hard costs of the Hughie Project to be approximately $5,000.” 

Recently, Sheila and Hughie welcomed the local media and the Rotarians from Loganville into their beautifully reclaimed living room. “This used to be my mini-hospital,” says Sheila. “I can have all of you come in and sit down now...there is space for a party in here!” John Sauers smiled as everyone gathered around to remember the hard work, volunteers, and donations that made the project possible. “We had almost everybody working on this house at one time or another,” says John. We played it by ear and would ask Sheila if we could do this or that...it all worked out to be beautiful.” 

20150314 132627 336x597ret190Left: Completed shower with plenty of room for a wheelchair. Photo courtesy of Loganville Rotary

With his high school graduation just on the horizon, Hughie is looking forward to preparing for the celebrations surrounding that event by showering and getting all spiffed up in private. “We plan to attend a baccalaureate service,” says Sheila. “I don’t think he will be able to go to the actual graduation as it is too late in the evening for him.” Knowing that he has been able to achieve his graduation from high school and has his own bath makes Hughie happy.

As his visitors began filing out of his room, Hughie waved goodbye keeping an eye on the green graduation gown hanging from his doorframe and the green cap with tassel positioned among the cowboy figurines that decorate his dresser. “Bye,” says Hughie with a smile that says so much more. “Thanks.”