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New foundation aims to help man, other injured motorcyclists

Jeff Deweese
Posted at 9:56 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 01:56:51-04

A Valley man hopes to one day walk again, nearly two years after suffering serious injuries when another driver hit him while on his motorcycle.

Jeff Deweese, 34, was hit by a suspected drunk driver near 52nd Street and McDowell Road in April 2019. He is paralyzed from the waist down and still recovering from other injuries.

"I'm kind of a lost soul right now, just wanting to walk again and get healthy again," Deweese said.

Deweese told ABC15 the past two years have been a slow and painful process as he works to recover.

"I know it sounds cliche, and you hear it throughout your whole life, you don't know how important certain things are until it's gone," he said.

With no family in the Valley, a new friend he met after the crash has since become a caregiver, working to advocate for Jeff. Kristine Barto told ABC15 many of the treatments and devices needed to help him cost tens of thousands of dollars and are not covered by his insurance.

"He has made a lot of progress, he was originally paralyzed from the chest down, now it's more the waist," Barto said.

Barto said his insurance has not covered the requisite devices that would help Jeff along his journey to potentially walk again.

"We keep getting back from them...because he's paralyzed, and any type of treatment is deemed experimental because there's no guarantee," Barto said. "So, they just deny everything based on that."

Barto said the difficulties her friend has faced helped move her to create the Forever Two Wheels Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at helping Jeff and other motorcyclists who sustain similar injuries.

"It's basically focused on anyone with spinal cord injuries or paralysis due to a motorcycle accident," she said.

In Jeff's case, Barto hopes her friend is at least afforded a shot at walking again.

"That's all he wants in this life is to be given a chance to walk," Barto said. "If he tries everything and...never is able to walk again, he can live with that. But to go on and never try and not know, that's hard to live with."

The foundation also has a Facebook and Instagram page.