By David Piestrzynski
The community is pulling together for Hamtramck resident Thomas “T.J.” Zuchowski.
In June, Zuchowski, a 23-year-old Wayne State University accounting graduate, injured his spine while diving near Oscoda.
The injury left Zuchowski paralyzed from the chest down. He is currently in the rehabilitation unit at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital to receive therapy for the injury, which severed his spine at the cervical level.
According to his mother, Donna Zuchowski, T.J.’s spirits are high.
“He’s pushing, and getting stronger,” she said.
While T.J. has responded well to therapy, the Zuchowski family is facing other challenges.
The configuration of their Hamtramck home makes some of the wheelchair-accessible additions difficult to install. Also, the family is having to deal with some of the expenses that aren’t covered by their insurance.
But after hearing of T.J.’s accident, several of the Zuchowski’s friends and acquaintances sprung into action with fundraisers to help in his time of need.
On Aug. 5, there was a bowling fundraiser at Sunnybrook Lanes in Sterling Heights that had about 200 attendees.
For the Zuchowski family, which includes T.J.’s parents Donna and Thomas, and his siblings Daniel and Jessica, the support they’ve received has been tremendous.
“A little bit from a lot of different people can do a lot,” said Donna Zuchowski. “It was really great.”
She said several of T.J.’s classmates from Hamtramck High School were in attendance, which meant a lot to her son.
“They all signed cards for him with wishes of luck and love,” Donna Zuchowski said. “Hamtramck people have really come through.”
The family has also gotten a lot of support from outside communities.
For example, Buster Sunde, the baseball coach at Madison Heights Bishop Foley High School, started a benefit program where the last Tuesday of each month, local restaurants will donate 20 percent of their proceeds to help with T.J.’s expenses.
T.J.’s younger brother, Daniel, stars on the Bishop Foley baseball team.
Daniel Zuchowski has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Toledo, where he’ll be attending school in the fall.
Sunde is also helping the family to find a home that’s more handicap-accessible.
Another event will be held in Hamtramck on Aug. 26 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the P.L.A.V. POST 10 Hall at 11824 Jos. Campau. The fundraiser, a spaghetti dinner, will be hosted by Knights of Columbus, Cardinal Mercier Post 2723, and will feature performances by the Polish Muslims and the Redones, a local cover band.
Admission is $15, with a cash bar, with all proceeds going to T.J. Zuchowski’s medical expenses and to assisting in accessibility accommodations.
For more information, call (313) 893-1355.