Community Rallies Around Local Family
After a pool accident leaves a young man paralyzed, organizations lead fundraising drives.
Eric Burbank, director of Maplewood's Department of Public Works, is responsible for everything related to the town's infrastructure, including maintaining roads, sidewalks, parks and trees and overseeing garbage collection, snow removal and recycling. When Burbank was appointed director in 2009 after working his way through the ranks, then-Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta called him "the best public servant I've ever run into."
Earlier this summer, Burbank's 18-year-old son Ryan broke his C5 vertebrae in a pool accident, paralyzing him from the chest down. Now, two local non-profit organizations, the South Orange Elks and HK Community Fund, are coordinating fundraising efforts to assist the Burbank family.
To prepare for Ryan's transition home after a stay at the Kessler Rehabilitation Institute in West Orange, the family needs to install a handicap accessible bathroom and a wheelchair ramp/lift. They also need to purchase a wheelchair accessible van.
Friends from the South Orange Elks have set up a website to raise $30,000, all of which will go directly to the family to help pay for Ryan's care. To donate online, go here. To send a check, make it payable to: South Orange Elks #1154 and mail to: Ryan Burbank Fund, c/o South Orange Elks #1154, 220 Prospect St, South Orange, NJ, 07079.
"Eric has been an important part of the South Orange Elks for many years," said fellow Elks member Chris Dickson.
HK Community Fund’s “HK C.A.R.E.S” program is also collecting donations and will match the first $5,000 donated. Donate online here; click on the link that says “special instructions to seller” and type “Burbank” so that HKCF will know how to direct your donation. Donations can also be sent by check to:
HK Community Fund, 515 Valley Street, Suite 130, Maplewood NJ, 07040; print Burbank on the memo line.
"Eric is a friend to me, and he is a friend to the community in more ways than people know," said Township Committeeman Jerry Ryan. "Eric's helped out a lot of people in times of need -- usually above and beyond -- so I hope we can all get behind helping his family in his time of need."