Local volunteers make improvements to MS patient's home

LENEXA, Kan. - Getting in and out of his house is now much easier for Bryan Riffel, thanks to a group of local volunteers.

Because of his multiple sclerosis, Riffel is no longer able to walk around unassisted. 

"There are times where I just can't move my legs," said Riffel. "I can't lift it up to begin with."

Riffel was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 2004, when he was only 39-years-old.  He first noticed a problem when his vision would get blurry after a three-mile run.  He went to an ophthalmologist who referred him to an MS specialist.

"I was kind of numb," Riffel said. "I didn't break down or cry or anything, I was just numb."

At the time, Riffel was still mobile.  But over the years, his condition deteriorated.  In 2010, he started walking with a cane.  Then, he started using a walker.  These days, Riffel mostly uses a power chair to get around.

"It's drastically stopped me from doing things that I love doing, being social, going out in groups, doing social gatherings," said Riffel. "Going out to eat with my family is even hard because they have to help me get into the car."

Heartland Borderwalk Foundation is dedicated to helping MS patients, like Riffel, improve their quality of life.

"Bed lifts, wheel chairs, ramps to get in and out of their home," said event director, Meribeth Boone.

In Riffel's case, he had asked for help paying for new batteries for his power chair.  Boone said when volunteers arrived at his home, they noticed certain issues that were preventing him from freely moving around.

"The threshold getting into the garage was hard to get over," Boone said. "Getting out the front door, makeshift ramp that they had? Yes, he could get down it. Was it safe? No, it wasn't."

So Heartland Borderwalk Foundation hired a contractor, at no cost to Riffel, who added a new ramp to his front door and removed the threshold between his kitchen and garage.

"I can get around, I can go outside and in," said Riffel. "My power chair goes out to my car now. I don't have to stumble out to my car with my walker or cane."

Heartland Borderwalk Foundation is made up entirely of volunteers, who raise money year-round to support individuals with MS in the Kansas City area.

To learn how you can help, or if you need help, visit http://www.msborderwalk.org/

41 Action News is also proud to partner with Bike MS Kansas City to support the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Register now to join Bike MS Kansas City on September 14 and 15.  See the special section on the 41 Action News website at http://www.kshb.com/subindex/marketplace/ms_society

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