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Honorees

Anna Grace McDonald

Anna Grace was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), a chronic illness that can cripple children if left untreated. After years of pain, Anna Grace was able to begin treatment, expensive treatment, including Remicade infusions that cost $14,000 per month. Anna Grace worked toward remission with soaks in hot baths to get her joints moving. Two things were recommended to ease her pain: Heat therapy and water therapy. At a Safe Step sponsored luncheon, Anna Grace spotted something that could provide both: a Safe-Step Walk-In Tub, the world’s best state-of-the-art tub whose air jets and water jets could provide Anna Grace with numerous therapeutic benefits. So enamored with the tub, she got in and posed for a picture. But her parents knew that while the tub could ease Anna Grace’s pain, they simply couldn’t afford the tub. They had both suffered layoffs while Anna Grace was in treatment. Anna’s mother Denise decided she wasn’t going to give up. So she wrote the company whose tub Anna Grace had fallen for. She told Safe Step the story of how Anna was looking at her disease as a ministry and she was going to educate as many people as possible about JIA. Anna Grace spoke at Arthritis Foundation events and created her own Facebook page to do just that. Denise didn’t expect a reply but she received one that has changed her little girl’s life. Safe Step, which routinely receives numerous letters for tub donations, recognized that Anna Grace was making a difference in her school and community. So the company decided to make a difference for the Helena teenager. Through its award-winning national program of giving, Safe Step Cares, the Nashville-based company surprised Anna Grace with the very tub she fell in love with, at no cost to the family. “We were moved by Anna Grace’s story and Safe Step is in the business of changing the lives of our neighbors and friends, every day,” said Mike Duffer, president and founder of Safe Step Walk-In Tub. “We heard she loved our tub and we were thrilled to surprise her with something that has eased her pain and changed her life.”

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Jazmyne Harris and Amy & Emily Templeton

Virgil’s 15-year-old daughter Jazmyne also has Friedreich’s Ataxia, a severely debilitating, degenerative disorder that is inherited at birth. So determined to give Jazmyne the quality of life she deserves, Virgil set up a foundation, Jumpin’ for Jazz, to tell her story, increase awareness about FA and raise funds to offset her medical bills. Hand thought the therapeutic tub would be perfect for the family. Safe Step, which routinely receives numerous letters for tub donations, loved the letter and Jazmyne’s story and decided to help. But the company got a big surprise when they called Virgil to let him know. Virgil told Safe Step that the Templetons, another Indianapolis family who has two college-age daughters with FA, were more deserving. If there was one tub to give, Virgil said, give it to the Templetons. Amazed by Virgil’s thoughtfulness, Safe Step decided that one tub wasn’t enough in Indianapolis, so it decided that the Templeton family, at Virgil’s suggestion, would receive the tub for their daughters Amy and Emily, while Jazmyne would receive an additional tub too. “I am so grateful for this gift,” said Harris. “I show my enthusiasm because Jazmyne will benefit but I am so thankful that the Templetons got their tub as well.” Virgil’s thoughtfulness was not lost on the Templetons. “Virgil’s selflessness, and what Safe Step did in providing two tubs, is just unbelievable,” said Paul Templeton, Amy and Emily’s father. “Safe Step came in here and immediately you could tell that they were looking out for us, caring about our needs.” Earlier this year, Safe Step launched its Safe Step Cares program, in which the company rewards those in need on a regular basis at no cost. “We’re a family company and the connections we make along the way are so important to us that we wanted to be here to show them that they are now a part of our family,” said Andi Allender, Safe Step’s director of marketing. “As a result of Safe Step Cares, three girls in Indianapolis are going to gain independence and actually feel better when they bathe.” “Safe Step is in the business of changing the lives of our neighbors and friends, every day,” said Safe Step CFO Stuart Hall, who made the trip from Nashville to Indianapolis to present the tubs in person with Allender at both residences. “We are pleased to be able to provide Jazmyne, Emily, and Amy more safety and comfort as they cope with the effects of this unforgiving disease.” Perhaps Amy and Emily’s mother, Shawna Templeton, summed the event up best: “For ten years, we’ve been like ‘what are we going to do?’ and then to have this all given to us today, I’m just amazed. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity, the love, the friendship, and the beauty of it all.”

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Crestview Manor

The second request was simple enough but not immediately in the company’s wheelhouse: toilet paper. Shirley Perring, who sent the message to Safe Step, explained the residents’ plight: “The facility is old but well kept. The tub is dangerous and looks like something out of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and we knew there was a huge need for an upgrade. Further, the needs of the residents here are so basic. It includes something most people take for granted: toilet paper. So, I included it in my request.” Mike Duffer, president, and owner of Nashville-based Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. received the message and decided to do what he could to make the residents’ lives better. Through Safe Step Cares, the company’s nationwide program of giving, Duffer decided to donate two of his Nashville-based company’s state-of-the-art walk-in tubs, one for each floor of Crestview Manor. To top things off, Safe Step will provide “Toilet Paper for Life” for Crestview Manor. “We’re a very blessed company and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to make these life-changing donations,” said Duffer. “The second request took us by surprise but we decided to make toilet paper something that these deserving seniors never have to worry about again.” Duffer, his wife Kathie, and several Safe Step executives traveled to Crestview, Florida to meet the residents recently. They treated them to a catered lunch, brought each resident a gift basket, and made the donation announcement in person. “This is truly a miracle donation,” said Crestview Manor’s director Becky Brice-Nash. “Safe Step proved they really do care. It was a donation of a lifetime for some very special people, and beyond our wildest dreams.”

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David Scarbrough

In September of 2012, David’s mother, Ronette, was advised by David’s doctors to seek out a walk-in tub to assist with David’s mobility and therapy. Faced with rising medical costs from David’s care, Ronette took her quest for the walk-in tub online. Andrea Allender, director of marketing at Nashville-based Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co., one of the nation’s leading walk-in tub providers, discovered the fundraising effort online and asked Safe Step’s President and Owner Mike Duffer to change the Scarbrough’s’ lives in an instant, and forever. “I found Ronette and David’s story online and knew we could make a difference,” said Allender. “So I walked into Mike’s office and said, ‘Mike, we have to give them a tub.’ Mike didn’t hesitate. He decided on the spot to make the donation to assist the Scarbroughs.” When the home office called Ronette, her response was a little more than subtle. “Oh my gosh, you guys are awesome,” said Ronette. “I can’t believe this is happening.” Soaky, you see, is a Safe Step’s state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line walk-in tub, which was donated by Safe Step at no cost. David uses the tub up to 7 times a day. His doctors, who recommended Safe Step by name, are as pleased as his mother. “Since we’ve had the tub, David’s mobility has improved. The swelling in his knees has been reduced dramatically,” said Ronette. “When his doctors and therapists heard about the donation, they were amazed and thrilled because they knew the therapeutic benefits of the tub were immense.” Six months after the installation, Safe Step revisited Susanville, California to check in on the Scarborough. And Soaky. “We’re here today because we care,” said Safe Step representative Derek Farley. “We wanted to see the impact of the donation. We found that the tub is used every day, multiple times a day, and that it’s really become a member of the family.” David and Ronette’s story inspired Safe Step’s nationwide initiative called, appropriately, Safe Step Cares. Omaha, Nebraska’s Anthony (Tony) Cato, Jr., a former quadriplegic disabled by an uninsured drunk driver, received Safe Step’s first official Safe Step Cares donation in early April. He was able to take a bath unassisted for the first time in years.

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