Karate students find helping someone else makes them feel better too

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Bobby “Mike” McGee has always been self-sufficient. Now, after a surgery and subsequent staph infection left him struggling to walk, he’s relying on others and vowing to pay it forward.
On Friday, a group of children from Sidekick Karate in China Grove heard about McGee through Main Street Mission and went to his house to do a little landscaping. The children and their instructors mowed the McGees’ yard and pulled weeds.
McGee, 43, had been struck with back pain for four years and was unable to walk without pain. He regularly saw his doctor, who would send McGee to a pain clinic.
“It didn’t work,” he said.
He had several bulging discs and nerves wrapped around the discs in his back. In May, he had surgery and soon after came down with a fever while at home. McGee also began hallucinating.
His wife, Carolyn, didn’t know what to do. He began shaking.
Having no way to the hospital, she called for an ambulance.
“They said I could’ve died that night,” he said.
While he was in the hospital a second time, doctors discovered a staph infection, likely from the surgery.
He was diagnosed with discitis or disc space infection.
Carolyn administers antibiotics to her husband every 12 hours.
He’s currently doing physical and occupational therapy and is doing better. McGee is doing everything he can to prevent being wheelchair bound. He uses walkers and canes when he can.
He was born with club feet and endured multiple surgeries as a child. The thought of going back into a wheelchair is daunting.
McGee hopes to be mobile as he was before within a year. He would also like to be able to sit up long enough to strum his bass guitar. He’s played in several bands and performed at various events including the China Grove Farmer’s Day.
A friend of McGee’s, Bryant Wilson, set to work on building a wheelchair ramp onto the back of the house.
Many churches, family and friends donated money for lumber and supplies. In a matter of days, Wilson had erected a ramp.
“It breaks my heart because I was always helping somebody else,” he said.
When they are financially able to, the McGees want to make a donation to Main Street Mission.
“I don’t know how to thank them,” he said.
The only thing the family is lacking is transportation. Carolyn said it’s a struggle getting her husband to doctor appointments without a car. She relies on family and friends. She would love to be able to have a reliable way to get her husband to appointments.
About 12 children spend time at the karate studio for community involvement day.
“It’s building character, about giving back. It’s about helping,” said Carrie Taylor, co-owner of Sidekick Karate.
Taylor and her husband, Robert, own the business located in downtown China Grove.
The children are able to give back and learn about making the right decision along the way.
Todd Collins, a karate instructor at the studio, is upfront about his past incarceration, but makes no apologies for learning about life the hard way. It’s a lesson he’s willing to keep the children he instructs from learning.
“I’m not proud of what I did, but I’m not ashamed,” he said.
“It’s fun to help them clean up. It makes me feel really good. It’s good for the environment and helps other people,” aid Connor Kuehl, 10.
“I feel good about helping Mr. McGee,” said Andrew Hare, 9.
“It’s really great to be able to help somebody who can’t do for themselves. It’s a great feeling,” said volunteer Briana Weaver.
McGee walked down the ramp with daughter, “Dessie”, 3, holding his hand.
“I’m just so overwhelmed,” he said, near tears.
McGee quickly apologized for his display of emotion. He vowed that when he got better he’d do the same for someone else.
Until then, Carrie, Todd and the rest of the children at Sidekick Karate have vowed to return in a couple of weeks to mow again.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.