BUCKHANNON – A local family fundraiser donated two Smart tablets to Holbrook Healthcare Center Oct. 20 — exactly one year after their father (and grandfather) passed away as a result of COVID-19.
Sheila Perry started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to purchase and provide devices to medical facilities, so COVID-19 patients could speak to their loved ones, who were not permitted to be with their family members in-person. Perry started this fundraiser in honor of her father, Tex Walton, who died Oct. 20, 2020.
“My dad, Tex Walton, was a businessman here in Buckhannon, he had his own gun shop for years and he was diagnosed with COVID Oct. 1 of last year,” Perry said. “He was out on a squirrel hunt, and he thought he had a sinus infection. He didn’t realize he had COVID, and on the seventh day, he was hospitalized here at St. Joseph’s, on the 10th he was life flighted, on the 15th, he was put on the ventilator at Ruby and on the 20th, he passed.”
“In those 13 days, with the exception of the last day, we were probably able to communicate with him for about 15 minutes and some of that was using our nurse’s private cellphone,” Perry added.
Ruby Memorial Hospital possessed two iPads at the time, but they were reserved for patients who did not appear to be recovering.
“They would allow that family to have the iPad for the day and they could spend it with them virtually, so that last day we did have access for almost five hours,” Perry said. “My sister, my daughter, my nephew and I felt that we needed to do something about that because those were our last memories of him – those videos and phone calls – and we couldn’t be there. We knew when he talked to us, he was fighting better, he would calm down, he wasn’t getting depressed and lonely, and he would do better for a few hours.”
Their Go Fund Me page has given them the funds to donate 32 tablets to Ruby Memorial, St. Joseph’s Hospital, United Hospital Center, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, Davis Medical Center, the Braxton County Hospital, CAMC or Charleston Area Medical Center, and Mon General Hospital.
“This is just a way to give back to the state and to honor him,” Perry said. “He had a business and would always donate little things to the American Heart Association and other charities locally, statewide and nationally, so we just felt this would be a way to keep his giving heart going. Our first goal was to fill all of the COVID rooms at Ruby, which I believe there were 14.”
The family donates both Apple and Android tablets because different patients may be used to different operating systems.
“We’re doing what we feel God has laid on us and someone asked why we closed our donation after we reached our first goal and I didn’t feel that people were going to donate, but we opened it back up,” Perry said. “We’ve received even more money during the second fundraiser. As of today, we have raised a little over $6,000 toward the devices, and we’re very proud of that.”