Lakemoor police officer Rick Reece. | Provided Photo.

A Lakemoor police officer, who has over 40 years of service, is trying to raise money for a wheelchair accessible van after he became paralyzed in 2019.

A GoFundMe account was started last week for Richard Reece, who has been a police officer since 1979. He has spent the last 15 years with the Lakemoor Police Department.

Reece has received many commendations for his service including life-saving awards and for being the supervisor of the police explorers youth group.

Reece went to the hospital in March 2019 with numbness and tingling in his legs.

“Just hours later he was unable to walk and his medical issues began. He was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord,” Crystal Lake resident John Roehlk said.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, most people with transverse myelitis have at least a partial recovery with most of it taking place within the first three months after the attack.

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For some people, recovery may continue for up to two years and in some cases longer. However, if there is no improvement within the first 3-6 months, a complete recovery is unlikely, the NIH Neurological Institute said.

Reece has undergone months of physical therapy and has made some progress, Roehlk said. “Rick’s progress has been somewhat slower. He may not gain any additional mobility than he has right now.”

Reece is trying to become more independent and mobile by buying a handicap accessible vehicle. He has found a used vehicle in Illinois that meets his needs but he does not the money to buy it.

“He has located one with the type of lift and additional hand-control equipment already installed. He has been home-bound in his wheelchair for 23 months except for trips to physical therapy or doctor’s appointments which he takes a PACE paratransit bus,” Roehlk said.

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“It already has the side lift and chair lock installed and is ready to drive. The lift he needs moves his chair into the driver’s position as he is not able to transfer from his chair to a seat,” he added.

Roehlk said that having a vehicle “would mean the world” to Reece as he could do his own grocery shopping, errands and go to medical appointments.

“… most importantly would allow him to rejoin the working world and increase his self-sufficiency. Please consider making a donation to Rick to purchase this vehicle and help him move into the next stage of his recovery,” Roehlk said.

The GoFundMe account has raised $2,060 with a goal of $15,000.