When 25-year-old Ashley Walton was the tragic victim of a car accident last Memorial Day on Rt. 29 near Fashion Square Mall, doctors specializing in brain injuries gave her parents, Jeff and Robin Walton, little reason to hope.
Walton, who was in a coma, was taken to a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, but was home by the fall, in the hands of her family for care and with bleak prospects for even a partial recovery.
The family’s neat, modest ranch home in Doyles River was never intended to suit someone in Ashley’s immobilized condition. The family urgently needed a handicapped-accessible bathroom especially. Jeff Walton approached David Wyant, the former White Hall District supervisor, for advice about where to find a contractor he could afford.
“It was just too expensive,” Walton explained. “We were ready to forget about it, but David said, ‘No.’”
Wyant was determined to get an adequate-sized addition to the house built and he approached men in the congregation at Mt. Moriah Methodist Church in White Hall to help him, Walton explained.
In the first week of April, construction of a 12- by 30-foot addition to the rear of the Walton house, including a 10- by 12-foot bathroom with a wheelchair-accessible shower, was begun with all-volunteer labor and with materials sold at wholesale cost by Blue Ridge Builders Supply, partially covered by a grant of $5,400 from the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program. Rodney Rich and Brad Cogan donated the block and concrete work. Mike Maupin volunteered the electrical work and Billy James did the plumbing for free. Greg Shifflett has volunteered to do the painting. HVAC work was donated by Cool Response. A deck is also being added outside the addition, where Ashley will have a sunny view of Pasture Fence Mountain. “We’re working for the day when she can do things for herself,” said Wyant.
Mt. Moriah women have been bring lunch to the volunteers every day they work. “It does your heart good,” Gail Wyant said.
“The church and the whole community since the day of the accident have been outstanding in their support,” said Jeff gratefully. “It’s just too many people to name.”
With patient, persistent therapy and daily heaping doses of love from her family and friends, Ashley has regained some control of her right arm. She can grip firmly. Her left side remains injured. She can speak now, faintly and slowly, but is still fed through a tube because she cannot yet swallow. She said her most ardent desire is a white mocha coffee from Starbucks. “I am very, very determined to get better,” she said with a wide smile.
During Holy Week Ashley went to Maundy Thursday services at Mt. Moriah, held a hymnal and sang. It was her first excursion from home since the accident. “We keep praying and we keep the faith,” said Robin.
A celebration to mark the completion of the addition is being planned for later in May at Mt. Moriah.