PHOTO COURTESY OF MALINDABETHPHOTOGRAPHY.COM Bill Toombs, seen with his wife, Diane, suffered a hard fall last July and was paralyzed. A silent auction to help raise funds for a newer van to transport him and his wheelchair will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday at Indianapolis Christian Fellowship, 4540 Madison Ave.
By B. Scott Mohr Associate editor
A silent auction to benefit Bill Toombs, an associate pastor/counselor who has been a quadriplegic since fracturing his neck July 28, 2013, will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday at Indianapolis Christian Fellowship.
Toombs remembers that fateful day well. He caught his foot on the church’s carpet and fell into the wall. “I hit the wall hard and fell to the ground,” he said. “I couldn’t move anything and immediately saw an image of Joni Eareckson (Tada),” a Christian author and quadriplegic who paints with a brush between her teeth. “I thought since God had a plan for her, he had one for me, and I would make the best of it. I hollered for help, and my friends came from the other room.”
He underwent spinal surgery at Methodist Hospital and was in inpatient rehab for six months at several facilities, followed by three months of outpatient rehab at Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center. And if that wasn’t enough of a blow to knock the wind out of his sails, his wife, Diane, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of uterine cancer two months after he fell. She has since completed chemotherapy and radiation, and her cancer is in remission.
“The worst part about her having cancer was that I couldn’t be there to support her,” he said. Because the Toombs’ home of more than 26 years near Southport Road and Meridian Street could not be renovated to accommodate Bill’s wheelchair, Mrs. Toombs was forced to purchase a new home in Greenwood while her husband was still in the rehabilitation facilities.
“We needed to be closer to our family because we recognized that we needed their help,” said Bill, who complemented his wife on picking out a wonderful home.
“I had seen pictures of it before moving in Feb. 6, but they didn’t tell the full story. Some of the modifications included the doors being widened and a wheelchair-accessible shower. I can’t believe how much room I have to move around in my wheelchair. Since it’s a two-story, an elevator was installed. It worked out very well until the electricity went out and I got stuck between the floors,” he laughed.
Toombs, who continues his rehabilitation at home can move his arms and use his hands a little, remains upbeat. “I can write a little and feed myself, but it’s difficult to cut food up.
In reflecting on how he copes with his handicap, Toombs said: “In life so many people measure what they have from a physical standpoint. But what is really important are the relationships you have and the prayers that you know are being offered on your behalf. My dad lost an eye and a finger, and I never heard him complain about it. He always maintained his faith. I use his attitude as my encouragement.”
Jeanne McCullough, who’s playing a key role in coordinating the auction, noted that Bill is working hard in rehabilitation.
“The doctors don’t know if I will ever walk again,” said Toombs. “I keep telling myself to walk all the time but nothing happens. Hopefully, I will someday.”
“McCullough said he is a constant encourager to everyone he meets. “He is a wonderful man and a true joy to be around; his smile and optimistic attitude can light up any room. Bill has been a constant help in the community through counseling and other forms of ministry.”
Toombs is in the process of retiring from Indianapolis Christian Fellowship, 4540 Madison Ave., but he plans on returning to his pastoral counseling duties at Perry Meridian and Southport high schools within the next two weeks. “I’m really looking forward to getting back to that,” said Toombs, who has been at Perry since 1990 and Southport since about 2005. He also enjoys encouraging others out of his home when he’s unable to get out.
Toombs said he loves his new neighborhood and cruising around in his wheelchair, which sports two orange flags and is capable of doing 5 mph. “It is nice to get out meet people.”
Although Mr. and Mrs. Toombs, the parents of five and grandparents of five, have some benefits through insurance, the need for additional funds is great. Necessities include a newer van to transport him and his chair, medical equipment and daily supplies.
McCullough has secured more than 150 items for the auction, including a two-night getaway in a log cabin, four club level Indiana Pacers tickets, Indianapolis Colts tickets and apparel, a spa package for two, and gift certificates and baskets laden with goodies and merchandise.
“There are so many things, really something for everyone,” said McCullough, who noted that some items are valued at more than $500. “I’m telling people to come and start their Christmas shopping at the auction. It will be a great night of fun, and everyone will get to meet Bill and Diane.”
And if any of the bidders, who need to buy a bid ticket for $5, have an appetite, sandwiches from Chik-fil-A and desserts made by church members may be purchased.
Bill said he is looking forward to the auction because it will afford him the opportunity to see a lot friends that he hasn’t seen for a while.