Students, community step up to help woman who lost home to fire and suffered stroke


Like a good neighbor, Betty Grant has been there for Seymour Middle School.

Principal J.B. Royer said Grant always helped keep an eye on the school since the back of her home faced it.

Then with her working nearby in the kitchen at Casey’s General Store at Fourth and O’Brien streets, Royer often stopped in to buy food or coffee.

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When Grant suffered a stroke and lost her home to a fire March 24, Royer saw an opportunity for the school to help.

After talking to counselor Troy Hubbard and student government adviser Jamey Doriot, they agreed to have students involved in the organization lead a fundraiser.

In a week, the school raised $483.24. They recently presented a check in that amount to Grant’s daughter, Margaret Wilson.

Royer said he felt horrible when he arrived at school a couple of days after the fire and saw what was left of Grant’s home.

“I thought with Mr. Hubbard and Mrs. Doriot and student government, we decided to just try to raise a little money to help a neighbor,” Royer said. “She always took good care of us.”

Since some students also were familiar with Grant living nearby, Hubbard said they wanted to get involved.

“It ties into a lot of our themes of just giving, learning how to give,” he said. “Betty was always a good neighbor to the school.”

Eighth-grader Hayley Harpe and seventh-grader Aiden Darlage helped Royer and Hubbard present the check to Wilson.

“It’s pretty amazing seeing everybody helping out,” Darlage said of the school coming together.

“Even though we don’t know her, we’re still giving our money and helping her get through this time that is hard and help out with her situation,” Harpe said.

For the students, it was an opportunity to put the lessons of giving and doing something for others into action.

“I personally had cousins that their house burned down, so I know how it feels,” Darlage said. “We all live in Seymour, and it’s all a community, and you’ve got to help the community. It’s all about giving.”

The fire was reported around 2 p.m. March 24 at Grant’s home at 644 Berkshire Court in the corner of a cul-de-sac.

The 74-year-old was asleep in a bedroom in the front of the home when she heard a cracking sound, Wilson said.

When she got up, she saw the kitchen ceiling on fire. She then got dizzy and fell back and hit her head on the refrigerator, Wilson said.

Grant managed to crawl out of the back door and went to a neighbor’s home, but he wasn’t there, Wilson said. Then she walked to another neighbor’s home, and they were able to report the fire.

The fire report lists the cause of the fire as undetermined, but Wilson said looking at the back of the home, she can tell the flashpoint was in the ceiling.

After making a statement to firefighters, Grant was taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour for an evaluation. Wilson said a CAT scan came back clear, but the doctor noticed drooping on the left side of Grant’s face and arm, so an MRI was done the next morning.

It was determined she had a major stroke.

“We’re thinking the dizziness when she fell and hit her head was the first sign,” Wilson said.

Wilson was in West Virginia when she received a call about the fire.

“I tried to call her, but I couldn’t get an answer, and then I started freaking out,” Wilson said.

She then called a friend, Mary Plumer, who was able to go to the scene to be with Grant and accompany her at the hospital.

That day, Seymour had a wet, heavy snowstorm, but Wilson said it was worse in West Virginia, so she couldn’t get here until the next morning.

After spending three days at Schneck, Grant was taken to Columbus Regional Health to begin taking speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, all twice a day.

Grant was discharged Friday and now will start doing outpatient therapy at Schneck. She also will remain as an outpatient clinic patient in Columbus.

For now, she and her daughter are staying with a friend in the area.

“It’s hard to find a place for her to live until I know what her care level is going to be,” Wilson said. “It makes a difference in the width of the hallways and all kinds of stuff.”

As far as rebuilding the one-story brick home, where Grant had lived since 1999, Wilson is exploring options. She is researching the zoning laws to see about tearing it down and building a prefabricated home.

“When we get a break in the weather, we’re getting the house cleaned out as much as we can,” she said.

Grant also is receiving financial support from her co-workers and customers. Collection buckets at both Casey’s locations in Seymour have brought in more than $2,300. They will remain there until the end of the month.

People also can visit any JCB branch and donate to the Betty Grant charity account.

Wilson said her mother returning to work depends on how rehabilitation goes. Manager Kelly Harmon said Grant is still an employee.

“Right now, she’s just on a leave of absence, so there will be a position for her if she can and wants to come back,” Harmon said.

With only 13 people working three shifts at the store, Harmon said being one person down makes a huge difference.

“She loves her customers, and the customers love her,” Harmon said of Grant, who began working at Casey’s in October 2014. “They miss her, and they ask about her every day.”

Wilson said she and her mother appreciate everyone’s support.

“They complain about being from a small town, but when the rubber meets the asphalt, this town is behind you,” Wilson said. “Your heart smiles. That’s all you can say.”

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“They complain about being from a small town, but when the rubber meets the asphalt, this town is behind you. Your heart smiles. That’s all you can say.”

Margaret Wilson said of people supporting her mother, Betty Grant, who recently suffered a stroke and lost her home to a fire

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Here are ways you can support Betty Grant:

Drop money into collection buckets at both Casey’s General Store locations in Seymour, 400 N. O’Brien St. or 602 W. Tipton St., through the end of April.

Visit any JCB branch and donate to the Betty Grant charity account.


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