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"Despite volunteers' disabilities, the wheels
keep on turning"
Column in The Journal News, Westchester County NY daily newspaper, 12/19/1998, page 4 E
By Bill Bookman
Copyright 1998 Bill Bookman
A newspaper column about two inspiring individuals, Hans Kyzivat (paralyzed from the neck down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and who still wears leg braces and uses a walker) and Frances Sorapure (who has end-stage emphysema and is hooked up to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day).
        Hans Kyzivat

Frances Sorapure has end-stage emphysema. She is hooked up to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day.
Hans Kyzivat had been paralyzed from the neck down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and still wears leg braces and uses a walker. In addition, his fingers and feet are impaired.
What these two people have in common is that despite their serious disabilities, they are both active volunteers with Meals-on-Wheels who drive their cars on delivery routes.
As with all other drivers for the agency, they are accompanied by another volunteer who carries the prepared meals into the homes of the mostly elderly recipients while the car and driver wait at the curb.
"It's an inspiration that they can continue to do good for people in spite of their problems," said Ann Peterson, the Meals-on-Wheels director in White Plains.
Sorapure is a semi-retired legal secretary who still works in her home. (She had been my secretary back in the '60s when I was editor of the former White Plains Reporter Dispatch.) In addition to driving one day a week for Meals-on-Wheels, she performs the same duty for the Lord's Pantry, an organization that delivers meals to homebound AIDS victims. Both organizations need more volunteers badly, she said.
When Sorapure leaves her house, she trundles an oxygen tank strapped to a luggage carrier.
"It's a struggle for me to get from the house to the garage," she said, adding that sitting in the car "is no big physical deal."
The oxygen tank is squeezed behind her seat in the car and alongside the bulky hampers of hot and cold food.
Sorapure has been temporarily sidelined since last month when she contracted pneumonia.
Kyzivat is a retired metals product manager who had come from Vienna as a Fulbright exchange student. He stayed because he liked the American way of life. In 1978, following a bout with influenza, he became progressively paralyzed over a 24-hour period and spent the next year immobilized, first at St. Agnes Hospital and then at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. He was discharged, he recalled, 'because Burke said, "You're not making any more progress.' They sent me home in a wheelchair."
He spent the second and third years of his disability pursuing physical therapy at home. He gradually improved.
"After the third year, my doctor said, 'Well, now you can drive your car.' I replied, 'You must be kidding.' But I've been driving since 1981. I can do anything, only three times as slowly."
Meals-on-Wheels in Rockland County also makes good use of disabled volunteer workers. A group from the Association for Retarded Citizens works several days a week delivering meals.
"They're wonderful," said Jennifer Cesca, the Meals-on-Wheels volunteer coordinator. "They're the most reliable we've got."
Putnam County meals delivery is handled by paid county employees.
Send questions and comments to Bill Bookman in care of Living Section, The Journal News, 1 Gannett Drive, White Plains, NY 10604.