It only took one phone call for Kay Matlock to realize what she meant to her friends at Evans High School.
Matlock, who spent 16 years as Evans High's bookkeeper, called her old friend Sheila Rogers to see if she could pay the school's construction department to build a wheelchair ramp onto her Evans home.
Rogers talked to Assistant Principal Chris Segraves, who talked to construction teacher David Adams, who ran with the idea.
Adams wanted the ramp construction to be a class project, but liability and time restraints kept students from working on it.
"David Adams went over there during the Christmas holidays, took his time out of his own personal time away from his family and everything and built this lady a ramp," Segraves said.
Matlock, who retired from the Columbia County school system in 1997, went to the emergency room with a kidney stone in early September and left Jan. 15 as an amputee, she said. She was confined to a wheelchair after her left leg was amputated below the knee because of diabetes and kidney failure.
"That made it a lot easier psychologically when I came home to see that ramp and how beautifully built it is," Matlock said. "It has meant so much that I don't think they will ever know what this has meant to me."
Matlock's transition from Windermere Health and Rehabilitation Center back home was made smoother by having the ramp in place when she returned.
Matlock's days are busy with doctors' appointments, rehabilitation and dialysis, so getting in and out of her home is very important.
Adams is in his first year teaching at Evans High so he never met or worked with Matlock. But he custom-built the small deck and ramp in two days in December, replacing the concrete block steps to her back door.
"She is a nice lady, and I was glad to do it for her," Adams said. "Once you meet her, you are glad you did it."
Adams donated his time, but Evans High faculty, staff and clubs paid for the ramp. When school began after the Christmas holidays, Segraves circulated a letter explaining Matlock's situation and Adams' donation.
The ramp cost $500, and nearly $700 was raised, Segraves said.
So Rogers, Adams and Segraves gathered at Matlock's home Tuesday and surprised her with a check for $170.73, the extra donated funds to go toward anything she may need.
Matlock unsuccessfully tried to give it to the high school's construction department.
"You have your ramp built, and they wanted to help you," Rogers told Matlock. "Take it, enjoy it and do whatever you need."
The money will help out with special needs or medical bills, but it is Matlock's frequent smiles and positive outlook that will get her on her feet again.
"You think people may have forgotten you, your worth," Matlock said. "Then something like this just renews your whole outlook, your whole strength is renewed.
"I am real excited because I am going for a prosthesis. Hopefully, I will be up and around soon. I know that I will be walking. I know it with all my heart."
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