In August 1996 St. Petersburg resident Jeffrey Lika was out driving close to home when all of a sudden life as he knew it would change forever.
An auto accident left him incapable of caring for himself.
"Girl ran a stop sign four blocks from here," explained Jeffrey's mother, Hamide Lika. "[It happened] right on 1st Ave and 64th Street."
Jeffrey, who was 24 at the time, suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for three months and the injuries meant his parents would have to provide his every need.
"Our life was changed after that," Mrs. Lika added. "[Now] we live for Jeffrey."
The Lika's home is modest and changes have to be made to accommodate Jeffrey's special needs.
"Access begins at home," says Frank DeLucia, president of the Abilities Foundation. "If Jeffrey can't access his own home and live independently he's not going to get out and enjoy everything community has to offer."
Early Monday morning a small army of volunteers will begin a major renovation project on Jeffrey's bathroom. The work means he will be able to use the facilities on his own for the first time in 17 years.
"It is going to be wheelchair accessible," DeLucia added. "He's going to have a roll-in shower."
A little independence can go a long way in building a person's confidence.
"For Jeffrey it is going to be life changing," said Brenda Wellhausen with the Home Depot. "He's going to be more independent, he's going to be able to do things on his own."
The renovations will not put a damper on the Lika's finances.
"There will be no cost to the family or to Jeffrey," DeLucia said. "It's going to be assumed by the installers, home depot and thanks to a grant from Shorecrest [High] students."
The Lika's will be required to move to a new location during the overhaul. Once they return when the work is complete Jeffrey and his parents' quality of life will be dramatically improved – thanks to some good-hearted people.
Jeffrey can't wait.
"I'm excited because I'll be able to use the bathroom by myself now," he says.
Mrs. Lika is also very pleased the much needed work is getting done.
"From the bottom of my heart I am so grateful to them," she said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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