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Rallying for a friend’s recovery

Friends of Tommy Longfellow will come together Saturday night to return some of the favors the long-time mechanic has done for them over the years.

Longfellow, 49, sustained crippling injuries in a motorcycle crash six months ago and is still recovering.

“In August I was riding my motorcycle and went to turn off of State Route 7 onto Bramblewood Heights. A lady following didn’t see me and rear-ended me,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not sure what happened after that, I don’t remember anything for about two weeks after.”

Longfellow, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, was thrown more than 200 feet by the impact and landed on his head. In addition to a deep laceration on his scalp that went halfway around his head, one of his legs was crushed and his spine and shoulders were injured.

Now, he’s on the path to recovery but still has a long way to go.

“I’m going to physical therapy three times a week and speech therapy twice a week. Everybody’s amazed at how far I’ve come, but I still walk with a cane,” he said. “I can do my own baths now and that sort of stuff, I can cook and do dishes on my own but it takes me a lot longer than most people.”

The injuries also have taken away his ability to enjoy outdoor recreation, such as fishing and boating, activities he enjoys.

Another surgery might be in store, he said, as doctors continue to assess the progress of treatment for his leg injuries.

A lifelong friend, Kimberly Flowers, has organized a fundraising dinner and entertainment evening Saturday at the American Legion Post 159, 100 Central Ave. in Williamstown. The meal will be spaghetti, and the entertainment will be provided by Jinxd, a local band whose lead singer is Longfellow’s cousin and contributed the band’s time for the evening. The cost for dinner is $5.

“Tommy’s like a brother to me, we grew up together, we’re like family,” she said.

For Longfellow, 2018 was a tough year. His mother died in February and he had just finished fighting off cancer before the motorcycle crash. He was divorced in October. His employer, Superior Toyota, stood by him through all those difficulties but finally had to let him go late last year, Flowers said.

“He needs some help with bills, especially medical costs,” she said. “Tommy is well-known. He helped a lot of people at Toyota, worked on a lot of people’s cars on his own, he’s just a good guy.”

Longfellow knows his friends’ cars well.

“It seems like I’m the first one they call,” he said affably. “Garages are expensive.”

Flowers said the meal Saturday will be prepared by the Legion ladies’ auxiliary, and they are planning for about 350 people.

“I helped a friend raise money last year, and they’re very giving, so I went back and asked for their help,” she said. “They’re all donating their time, they’re awesome.”

Longfellow said the healing process has taught him things.

“I’ve never really been a patient person, but this accident has changed me in a lot of ways, it’s been a learning experience,” he said. “Everybody’s noticed a difference in my attitude, that I take one day at a time and stay positive.

“The community has just been exceptional already. People have brought me dinner, things like that. If I’m going to be anywhere, this is the place to be.”

Anyone who can’t attend the Saturday dinner but would like to contribute to the fundraiser can contact Flowers at 304-481-4814.