Franklin family receives $3,000 gift

Published 9:13 am Saturday, July 7, 2012


The Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia donated a ramp for the Grueling family’s 11-year-old son. In the front row, from left ate Katie, Hadley and Nathan; second row, Cooper; third row, Rose, Robbie and Evan; and fourth row, Neil McNulty, Jennifer Grueling and Rob Grueling. -- Brian Whitt | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Franklin residents Rob and Jennifer Grueling were the recipients of a gift that means much more than it would to most families.

The gift was a wheelchair ramp for their 11-year-old son, Evan.

Evan and his twin brother, Robbie, were born three months premature and suffer from pariventricular leukomalacia, the cause of their cerebral palsy. Robbie is highly cognitive, while Evan isn’t and requires a wheelchair.

The ramp was donated to the family by the Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia and built by Baxter Brothers. The 60-foot, $3,000 ramp was built in one day on July 4.

President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia, Neil McNulty, was at the Grueling home Friday afternoon for a meet and greet with the family, along with Judonald Sweat of Baxter Bros.

The family showed their appreciation with a thank-you sign made by the children.

McNulty heard of the Grueling’s situation from his Chief Operating Officer Chris Tan. Tan heard of the family from Gloria Wiggins, an employee of the Virginia Department of Social Services.

“We always do our best to help those in need, regardless of their beliefs,” McNulty said.

Rob Grueling, 37, is a crew member on the Navy’s USS George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier.

His job has him gone for weeks at a time, and his wife Jennifer Grueling, 37, is a stay-at-home mom for their seven children.

Jennifer Grueling suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, making caring for seven children all the more challenging.

Before the ramp was installed she had to carry Evan out to his powered-chair, as it was to heavy to be brought into the house.

“We believe that God will find a way to make it happen and he did,” said Jennifer Grueling.

Evan also was limited in being able to go outside at all without assistance, as even his manual-chair had to be lifted up and down steps for him to leave the home.

He would have to sit inside as the children waited for the school bus while his brothers and sisters sat outside, forcing their mom to constantly go between the two groups to ensure everything was in order.

“This is a huge gift and a life changer for the entire family,” said Rob Grueling.