PHOENIX (AP) — A metropolitan Phoenix neighborhood and a group of paramedics in training have come together to help a Scottsdale family still coming to grips with a recent tragedy.
When Angela Ashley, a resident of the Buenvante subdivision in Scottsdale, heard that the neighboring Wogan family had lost a family member in a horrific air-show accident last month in Reno, Nev., she wanted to do something to help.
Michael Wogan, a 22-year-old with congenital muscular dystrophy, was killed at the National Championship Air Races when a World War II-era P-51 Mustang plunged into the crowd.
Reno officials said 11 people, including the pilot, died because of the crash.
Michael's father, Bill, was among the spectators.
He remains hospitalized and doctors are unsure when he will be discharged, a family member said.
He lost his right eye, some fingers and has more than 100 fractures in his face.
Ashley asked the family how she could help.
Bill had been renovating his recently purchased home when the accident happened.
Neighbors responded by raising $500 for paint and completing other minor projects.
"Most people don't know their neighbors, but we know each other," Ashley said. "We watch out for each other and feel this is a unique neighborhood and when we heard about the tragedy we wanted to do something on a personal level."
Scott Tammaro, an instructor in Scottsdale Community College's paramedic program and Angela's son, asked his students if they wanted to help.
"The class was all for it," Tammaro said.
Almost 20 students working toward their paramedic certification showed up Oct. 26 to paint and make other minor improvements to the home.
Tyson Shelly, 27, a student of Tammaro's, said helping a family like the Wogans should be a natural extension of someone who wants to be a paramedic.
"We need to do our part. We don't get into paramedicine to become rich and famous," Shelly said. "This can make a difference and you sleep better at night, too"
Bill and his ex-wife, Anne, are parents to four brothers, three with muscular dystrophy, including Michael.
This was something Ashley said she could relate to — her son, Marc, died of the disorder in 1997.
There is no known cure for muscular dystrophy.
"They've suffered so much with the boys and now this heartache," she said.
Clay Stewart, 23, said his family has had to deal with a lot recently. Stewart is among three siblings who began calling the Wogans brothers and friends when his mom, Ellen, married Bill a few years ago.
"We formed a friendship right off the bat," Stewart said.
Stewart said the improvements to the home prove that people come together during times of hardship.
"The outpouring is a great picture about what a community can be. As things get rough we need to put an emphasis on community," Stewart said. "Community can help when times are tough."
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com
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