Community steps up to help quadriplegic get back into Atlantic Beach home

Jim 'Jimbo' Deming, family race to make home 'special-needs accessible'

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – One local community leader is fighting to get back into his Atlantic Beach home.

Not only did Hurricane Irma leave a lot of debris behind, the long-time Atlantic Beach Public Works employee now has to have his home made "special-needs accessible" after his family said an infection made him a quadriplegic.

Jim Deming, better known as "Jimbo," has been a household name at local beaches for years.

"We just savor the moments because that's what it's about," said his wife, Sally Deming.

His wife explains her husband has left his mark everywhere, from all the lifeguard chairs lining the beach he designed and built to being Santa Claus for the beaches community the past 35 years.

Right now, his family said, Jimbo is in rehab after surgery to clear a nasty infection, which left him a quadriplegic -- paralyzed from the neck down. It's created a financial burden for him and his family members, who are racing to make their home "special-needs accessible."

"Every other moment is just an extra moment to give glory. Whatever moments he has left, he would love to be in the place that he made," Sally Deming said. "To make it accessible to handicap, we have to build this extension for a handicap bathroom with a lift, and that's what's going on now."

As family members work to provide around-the-clock care for Jimbo starting this weekend, so many of those he's touched, including church members and school employees, are now rallying around him, saying the couple are still among the most positive people around.

"When we came back, all the trees that were down, these folks came and cut them up," Sally Deming said.

"It's such an easy thing to do, to do something nice for people who are so wonderful," said Debbie Higgins, administrative assistant to Sally Deming at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. "Episcopal wants to do everything they can to help, but having boots on the ground is everything to help."

Sally Deming has been the drama teacher at Episcopal High School for two decades. Anyone who wants to help the couple can head to their GoFundMe page, where they can read more about Jim Deming's work with local schools, colleges and universities as a theater technician after 25 years with the Atlantic Beach Public Works Department.

You can share your Hurricane Irma thoughts, support and ways to help using #FirstCoastSTRONG on social media.

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