Although they had hoped to raffle off their Louisville-area home to help cover mounting medical bills, when a prospective buyer approached Matt and Stephanie Loyal about a month ago, they felt they had to look into it.
Stephanie Loyal, with son Dalton and husband Michael, tried raffling their Louisville home to raise funds for Mrs. Loyal's medical bills from a motor vehicle accident. The couple recently sold its home instead.
Special to the News & Farmer
For the past several months, the couple has been selling raffle tickets for the green house tucked into pecan and fruit trees on Ga. Highway 24 east of Louisville.
The couple needed to sell 700 to 750 of the $100 raffle tickets, but even after extending the deadline from December to June, they had only sold about 350.
"When the couple came to look at the house, we decided this was it," Mrs. Loyal said. "We could try to sell it or take the chance on not selling enough tickets. Really, it (the sale) has been a big blessing. We really didn't make anything off the house. We just needed that expense off of us."
In February of last year, a head-on collision on Interstate 20 crushed Mr. Loyal's foot, shredded Mrs. Loyal's intestines, broke her back and tore the main artery supplying blood to her lower body.
The accident changed their lives.. The house they had spent months painting and remodeling, the home they planned to raise their new son Dalton in, took a dive on their list of priorities.
A few months later, having accumulated more than $1 million in hospital bills over the course of 16 surgeries, the money they owed on the house was one burden they decided they did not need.
The couple moved back to Grovetown to live with Mrs. Loyal's parents, Walter "J.W." and Barbara Bowles, to cut down on bills and so they can help with care.
They blanketed the area with information about the house raffle.
But since they had only sold about half the $100-tickets they would need to break even on the house, they decided to go for it and proceed with the sale.
"We've already started calling people to let them know," Mrs. Loyal said. "I want to tell people who bought tickets and who donated money and said they didn't want a ticket that we really appreciate all the support they've shown us. If you haven't heard from us yet, you will. We're going to be calling everyone."
A number of local businesses also donated items to be raffled off as smaller prizes when the house was to be drawn.
"We're still planning on pulling names for those items," Mrs. Loyal said. "Even the people who want their money back, we'll leave their name in the drawing for the prizes."
The last few months
At her parents' house Grovetown, Mrs. Loyal has someone on hand while Matt is at work to help with day-to-day tasks like picking up Dalton and changing his diaper, tasks that her injuries keep her from doing as she once did.
"I still have some pain, but I'm able to do more than I was just a few months ago," she said. "And considering all we've been through ...
"I still get tired, but I'm doing a lot better walking and I drive a little bit now but not with Dalton in the car."
The wreck cost her 90 percent of her small intestine and half of her colon, and since that is where one's body absorbs nutrients from food, she has to eat eight times a day or more to make sure her body gets enough of what it needs.
"One of the best things is that I don't have the tubes and bags attached anymore," she said. "I can do more. When you're down for so long, it just takes your strength away."
Mr. Loyal has gone back to work and is dealing with his injuries. His right heel was crushed in the accident. He suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg and now has a steel rod running from knee to ankle as well as screws and pins in his feet.
Mrs. Loyal had her gall bladder removed in February, and before that, surgery on her throat where she had some problems with her feeding tube while in her coma. She will have one more surgery that she knows of sometime in the next six to eight months.
She has not been able to get a straight answer from her doctors on how much she will be able to expect from her recovery.
"The doctors are so surprised that I'm still here that they don't know what to tell me to expect," she said. "They say everyone is different, everyone's body reacts differently to situations like this. We'll just have to wait and see."
The hardest part of the whole thing has been the time she has had to spend away from her son.
"I still can't pick him up," she said and ran her fingers through her son's hair. "But I am able to hold him more. I go in his room and lay down with him. I spend as much time with him as I can since I can't pick him up like I want to."
Last week Dalton turned 2.
"Mommy will get to be here for this one," she told him recently.
On his first birthday, she had just been moved from ICU to her own room.
"They brought a cake in, and we spent a little time together," she said. "But then he had a big party with the family here at the house. One of the hardest things was having to miss his first birthday. I won't miss anymore, hopefully."
And she does have hope, and strength, more than she may have once imagined she had.
"Most of it comes from God," she said, "but a lot comes from having such loving and supportive family and friends.
"God never lets you get more than you can handle. I thank God and thank everyone for their prayers. Without them, we wouldn't be here."
Anyone who wishes to contact the Loyals to discuss reimbursement or "just to talk," Mrs. Loyal said, can reach them at (706) 832-4892.
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