Left, students Jerad Servais and Brian Southworth, from the TKE fraternity on campus, pump gas for customers in freezing temps on Monday. The group took tips from drivers for the “Get Dillon Back into Action Fund”, which raises money for Dillon Sus, who was paralyzed in a car accident last year. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
“Can I pump your gas today, sir?” Asked Jerad Servais. The driver was surprised, but acquiesced, and retreated to the warmth inside the Church Street Shell station as Servais began pumping.
Hopping from one leg to another in the -7 temperature Monday afternoon, Servais looked at his buddy, gas- pumping partner Brian Southworth, and shook his head. “Man, its cold- I can’t wait to get back inside.”
The duo pumped gas in the subzero temps on Monday in an effort to raise money for the “Get Dillon Back in Action” fund, which benefits Dillon Sus, whose father Frank owns the Church St. Shell gas station.
Dillon was paralyzed in a car accident last May that killed two other young men and injured four others.
Southworth said a new member of his fraternity is friends with the Sus Family, and made him aware of the family’s rising medical costs.
“He said the Shell station owner needed some help,” Southworth said. “So we voted on it and decided to come here once a week to help out.”
Southworth said he and several other members of TKE will be present one day a week for a few hours to pump gas. Tips from grateful drivers go into the fund to help the Sus Family, he said.
Servais said the group would likely be at the station on Wednesdays, a busy day for the store because car washes are half- price.
Frank Sus said his family is humbled by the support, but his focus is on getting Dillon back to being as independent as possible.
“He’s home now, he’s doing well, but there’s one thing we’d like to do for him- we’d like to get him back in the woods,” Sus said. “He’s into hunting, fishing, all that.”
Dillon Sus was a backseat passenger in a car that crashed with another vehicle in Langlade County. Frank Sus said his son’s seatbelt “malfunctioned” in the crash, resulting in his son’s spine being crushed and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Sus said the family has struggled to pay for some of the medical expenses denied by insurance, but are otherwise eager to provide Dillon with a special wheelchair designed to get him back into the out-of-doors.
It’s called an Action Track Chair- an electronic, all-terrain wheelchair designed for outdoorsmen who are unable to walk.
And it’s expensive.
“Its $14,000- that’s obviously something not covered by insurance,” Sus said. “But it’s got tracks like a snowmobile, and that would make him able to go into the woods. We’d like to give him more freedom to do the things he loves.”
The chair is also capable of manipulating it’s rider into a standing position, which looks similar to a deer blind, he said.
“Dillon’s good, he’s finishing high school right now,” said Sus of his son. He said his family never expected so much support, but once Shell employees started putting out collection jars and asking regular customers to sign “Get Well” cards, he knew people were willing to help.
“So now we’re also looking into doing raffles and other things in the store,” he said.
As for the TKE members, they plan to pump gas one day each week until the end of the semester, but they don’t have a goal in mind.
“We just want to raise whatever we can to help,” Servais said. “I’m sure every little bit helps, and it’s a worthy cause.”
Members of the TKE fraternity will be on hand to pump gas for tips at Shell gas station, 3449 Church St., on Wednesday, 10 AM- noon.
Donations can also be sent directly to the store:
Shell Gas Station, c/o Frank Sus, 3449 Church St., Stevens Point WI 54481.