Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Injuries couldn't stop volunteer's dedication

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

MOUNT AIRY - Kevin Flynn nearly lost his life two years ago, but family and friends say he never lost sight of the impulse to make things better for others.

Peggy and Kevin Flynn of Mount Airy, long-time volunteers at Little Flower School in Mount Airy.
(Glenn Hartong photo)

The day he was injured, Feb. 22, 2002, Flynn was on his way to LaSalle High School to raise money for scholarships.

Flynn's westbound vehicle crossed the median on Interstate 74 and struck an eastbound vehicle, according to police reports. Three people in the other vehicle were seriously injured and Flynn, a real estate lawyer, was left paralyzed from the chest down.

As he lay in a hospital bed following the wreck, Flynn was most concerned with whether there was someone to replace him at the fish fry at St. Therese Little Flower School.

A graduate of the Catholic K-8 school, Flynn, 42, is a devoted volunteer and organizer of many functions, including the Little Flower Festival, which last year grossed more than $200,000.

Since the wreck, he has continued - even stepped up - his involvement at the school. He and his wife, Peggy, co-chairs of this summer's festival, held meetings at Drake Center in Hartwell, where Flynn first recovered from his injuries and continues to receive therapy three times a week.

In January, Flynn was inducted into the school's Wall of Fame for graduates who are role models for children.

The school also made Peggy an honorary Little Flower graduate and inducted her into the Wall of Fame for her festival work and her attentiveness to her husband's needs.

"The work it takes to make the festival a success fatigues the healthiest of bodies," reads the citation for Flynn's induction Jan. 25.

"Kevin's body was beyond the stage of exhaustion, and yet when the lights on the Ferris wheel came on, he was able to man the festival from his wheelchair with shared walkie-talkies between the committee members."

The citation and nominating letters, written by Flynn's sisters, wife and three children, were read by principal Linda Westendorf during induction ceremonies.

"He's an extraordinary choice for this award," Westendorf said. "He lives the gospel values and never lets his injury overcome his spirits."

Flynn, a LaSalle High School and University of Cincinnati graduate, works as a lawyer, but on a part-time basis. Still, he has come a long way since the accident.

Paramedics said they had never seen anybody survive such injuries, which included a broken right collarbone, broken left shoulder blade, seven broken ribs, punctured right lung and two crushed vertebrae.

Flynn hopes to walk again someday.

"His doctors and therapists are seeing progress that they can't explain scientifically," Peggy said.

Flynn attributes it to his faith. "The sense of God, the sense of spirit that I get here (at St. Therese) has really helped," he said.

"But the reason I do as much as I do is because I want to show the kids that no matter what happens to you, you've got to keep going - you've got to keep doing as much as you can while on this planet."


E-mail annag376@enquirer.com

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