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GW and Ben Plumb finished in the top 10 percent
By CATHY DYSON
The Plumb brothers of Orange County didn't win a handicapped-accessible van in a nationwide contest, so members of the community decided to raise the money for one themselves.
Leading the cause is Doris Waugh, a 64-year-old nursing home resident who's been paralyzed from the shoulders down for 30 years.
She's a resident at Dogwood Village of Orange County Health and Rehab, where Jane Plumb works full time.
Jane and her husband, George, are the parents of GW and Ben Plumb, brothers in their late 20s who have a rapidly worsening degenerative disease.
This spring, the brothers were featured in stories in The Free Lance-Star as they were part of an online contest, sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.
The Plumbs finished in the top 10 percent in the contest that drew more than 1 million votes. But they didn't win the handicapped-accessible van, and Waugh thought they deserved it.
She and others in the community have seen the way Jane Plumb has to carry each of her sons into the van, which can't accommodate their wheelchairs. The Plumbs leave an older wheelchair at home and a newer one at each of their workplaces.
Jane and George Plumb have always insisted their sons lead a normal life, despite the disease that causes muscle weakness, then difficulty walking.
Waugh talked with Forest Porter, a Methodist minister who visits her regularly, about raising money for a van. She also mentioned her plans to administrators at the nursing home, who said she couldn't conduct fund-raisers there because other employees at the facility have families in need.
Waugh set up a bank account with the Virginia National Bank in Orange. Others put collection jars where the brothers work. GW works at Faulconer Hardware and Ben at Virginia Tractor.
So far, about $25,000--half of the money needed--has been collected.
"Can you believe it?" Waugh asked. "This is a great community."
The money has come from a variety of sources. The owner of a hog donated the animal to the Orange County Fair, which auctioned it and gave the $5,000 proceeds to the van fund.
Another donation of $5,000 came from an anonymous source, Jane Plumb said.
She noticed an obituary for a man who'd been a resident at the nursing home and whose wife was one of her teachers. His family asked that memorial contributions be given to the brothers' fund.
People who have visited Waugh at the home also have left donations.
"It's sort of tear-jerking and mind-boggling and crazy, all at the same time, Jane Plumb said.
Conway Faulconer, who owns Faulconer Hardware, said the brothers are excited about the fundraising campaign. They're gathering some of their things for a yard sale to raise money.
At first, their father wasn't thrilled by the effort because he didn't want to be seen as a charity case, his wife said. The couple has always paid for their son's treatments and therapies without asking for any kind of government assistance, even though they probably qualified.
But as George Plumb heard others praise his sons and express their desire to help, he had a different opinion.
"Now he's sort of like, 'I can't believe we've raised such nice young men that people think they're pillars of the community,' " Jane Plumb said.
Contributions to the Plumb brothers can be made to Virginia National Bank, Box 709, Orange, Va. 22960. On the memo line, put: "Van Fund for GW and Ben."
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425