CHICAGO - The Chicago Bears awarded the non-profit Devices 4 the Disabled $101,000 this year.
But that’s not all.
One of the organization’s beneficiaries was given the surprise of a lifetime by tight end Jimmy Graham.
Bryan Epting nearly lost his life when he was struck by a stray bullet on his mom’s birthday.
The aspiring football player was days away from starting college when he was hit in the car with his family in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.
"The neurosurgeon came in and gave me the news, you're most likely not going to walk again, and I was in disbelief," said Epting.
Three years later, Epting is walking.
Every step of his recovery, he’s been assisted by Devices 4 the Disabled.
"We see gunshot victims, in the last year, we've seen COVID patients. We see mothers with children that don't have insurance and can't take care of their children," said Bob Shea, the organization’s co-founder.
Devices 4 the Disabled provides medical equipment, from walkers to wheelchairs, to those who can’t afford it.
"Where does the average middle class family come up with $27,000 for a wheel chair?" said Shea.
The items are collected from individual donors and charities. They are housed in a Chicago warehouse, until they are needed.
The help allowed Epting to come home from the hospital, which jump started his recovery.
"The bed, a lift to lift me up at the time, a shower chair, a commode, they pretty much donated everything," said Epting.
Shea started the organization after he was diagnosed with a condition that left him paralyzed and on a ventilator.
The medical equipment he used during his recovery was life-changing, he said.
The organization is going to use the grant from the Chicago Bears to refurbish medical equipment.
For more information, go to https://devices4thedisabled.org/