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Wednesday, August 17, 1983

"Former Plymouth Man Bests Quadriplegia"
By: Betty Sandvig

PLYMOUTH - From a completely immobile teen-ager to coordinator of disabled students is the success story of James Hemauer.

Hemauer, from the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, is visiting his hometown. The modest 26-year-old attributes his success to the support of his family and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. But much credit must also be given to him for his efforts to overcome a handicap that could have kept him bedridden for the rest of his life.

Many area residents will remember an accident on July 1, 1970, when Hemauer dove into a small lake between Plymouth and Elkhart Lake and was pulled out with a spinal injury. He was about to enter his junior year at the Plymouth High School.

Instead, he was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, Milwaukee where he spent the next 3 1/2 months with a diagnosis of quadriplegia. His injury was located at the fourth cervical vertebra. He was in traction 7 weeks.

Through the efforts of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hemauer, he was accepted at the rehabilitation center of the University Hospital at Madison, then a small facility on E. Washington Street. Mr. and Mrs. Hemauer, after a visit to the center, were impressed with the equipment and staff, especially Evelyn Ritter, a blind woman on the staff.

Since the rehab center was filled, Hemauer was told it could be several weeks or months before he could be admitted. However, only two weeks later he received a call and was transferred to Madison by Wittkopp Ambulance Service. He was not able to use his arms at the time.

He was in therapy in Madison until Feb. 19, when he returned to his home at 350 Stafford St. While in Madison, a counselor contacted the Sheboygan DVR and a typewriter and table were provided for his use.

Hemauer went to the Rehab Center in Sheboygan and DVR counselor came to Plymouth to talk about the future.

A van was purchased with funds donated by area residents. Fund raising events were held in New Holstein and Plymouth. Vocational agriculture teachers also contributed funds. Robert Hemauer being a voc-ag teacher. The van is still used by Hemauer today and he traveled to Plymouth in it last week.

Two classmates of Hemauer picked him up each morning and two others returned him to his home after he attended a few classes at the high school each day. He graduated from the Plymouth High School in 1973, only one year later than expected.

It was when he decided to attend the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh that the DVR really became more involved in his life. Through the efforts of Robert Yockey he received his tuition and books and two attendants to live with him and assist him with his daily living and college classes. He also received an electric wheel chair for transportation around the campus. Since that time he has become progressively more independent although still confined to the wheel chair.

While he was at Oshkosh, David Kolb, another counselor, became not only his counselor, but also his friend. Hemauer graduated from the university with a degree in social work and a minor in psychology.

Following a summer at home, seeking work, and with increasing difficulty in tolerating the winter weather, Hemauer moved to Tempe, Ariz. in January of 1979. He began his graduate work at Arizona State University. Again DVR assisted with the tuition, books, a typewriter, a new wheel chair and one attendant. While a student, Hemauer was employed at the Scottsdale Community College as a counselor to disabled students. He earned a masters degree in counseling a year ago.

He is now employed at the University of Arkansas as coordinator of disabled students services. He works indirectly with the DVR to evaluate the needs of the students, determine if they qualify for funds, and if so, coordinate the transfer of funds with the DVR coordinator on campus.

Last year there were 110 students identified with disabilities and this year there are expected to be 150. Hemauer has direct or ongoing contact with 50 percent of these students. He also plans on an architectural survey and hopes to publish a disabled students handbook for high school counselors and university students. Hemauer will work with the athletic program for disabled students.

Hemauer said, "If it would not have been for the DVR I would not have gone through college. Their support also made me work harder to achieve."

He said he just attended a conference in California with hundreds and hundreds of disabled that are now gainfully employed and happily leading near normal lives.

Hemauer said the funds spent by the DVR for him over the 8 years would have been used in 2 years had he been totally dependent. Instead he has become a self-supporting, tax-paying citizen. He has a young man living with him to drive him to his work and appointments and do the tasks he is unable to do. His sister, Barbara, from Phoenix, drove him to Wisconsin for his annual visit with his family.

Hemauer said his five sisters and three brothers were important to his success. He said, "I do not know how I would have gotten through without them. They always came through when I needed help."

Robert Hemauer said, "if it not for the DVR, Jim would not be where he is today. I can say the same for myself. I would never have finished 37 years of teaching."

The DVR assisted the elder Hemauer, who is a retired agriculture teacher from Lakeshore Technical Institute. He is a member of the Board of Education for the Plymouth School District and serves on the Wisconsin DVR Consumer Advisory Council.