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Tony Cato

Tony Cato is getting used to miracles. In September, 2007 his doctors told the former University of Nebraska – Lincoln basketball star he’d never walk again. They ate their words just months later when Tony surprised friends by taking his first steps since being declared a quadriplegic following an accident involving an uninsured drunk driver.

Tony, who walks on his own but still suffers partial paralysis, recently received a surprise of his own, as representatives from Nashville-based Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. arrived in Omaha to bring Tony its top-of-the-line walk-in tub free of charge as part of the Safe Step Cares program. Cato couldn’t escape tears as he walked slowly down his porch steps to see his new tub.

“This is a miracle,” said Cato. “I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to take a bath again, but now I can.”

Tony has undergone 12 surgeries since the wreck and his mother says his medical bills are in the millions. In a conversation with his friend Jennifer Galloway in January, Tony was asked if he could have one thing, what it would be. His answer: a tub. So she wrote several leading walk-in tub companies requesting consideration for a donation.

“I took a chance but didn’t know if it would turn into anything,” said Galloway. “But it was on my heart, so I wanted to give it my best shot for Tony.”

Only one company responded: Safe Step.

“We heard his story, how he had fought back, never quit, never complained and made time to speak to the dangers of drunk driving in between volunteering at the VA among other community endeavors, and we said, ‘this is our guy, let’s swoop in and show him Safe Step cares,” said Omaha native and Safe Step’s corporate marketing manager Danielle Revelette, who flew in to be a part of Tony’s special moment. “We are here to change his life,” added Revelette. Safe Step says that Tony is the first recipient of Safe Step Cares but the company intends to keep giving back to the communities it serves on a regular basis.

“Safe Step’s business is about changing lives,” said Safe Step executive Stuart Hall, who also came to Omaha to meet Tony. “When I saw the look on his face as he walked out to see the tub, I knew that we had done the right thing. Safe Step is here because we care about Tony.”

Tony’s first words upon seeing the completed install: “Wow, it’s unbelievable. This is going to be great. Now get out of here so I can take a bath (his first on his own in more than five years).”