A very special thank you to Maggie Hardy Magerko of 84 Lumber for donating a brand new Ford F-150 from Washington Ford, customized by Mobility Works. Jim can now drive himself using hand controls, and load his wheelchair utilizing a remote control crane that is housed in the bed of the truck, and transfer himself in and out of the drivers seat using electronic controls. It was a very emotional gift for Jim, and is appreciated more than words could possibly express. This feeling of independence is something Jim has missed since his injury. Being gifted this freedom was a pure blessing. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Maggie!
Thank you for checking in with us. We really appreciate the support. From our family to yours! (Jim, Cris, Ziena, Zar & Zoey)
Thanks to life-long friends Tracy and Mike, Jim was able to enjoy something he hasn't been able to do since his injury. Jim grew up in a sportsman household, he hunted with his father and relatives often, and this opportunity really put a smile on his face.
Showing some support to the Clairton Police Polar Plunge Team!
Jim was presented the award for Officer of the Month (July 2012) at the 2013 Police Week at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial during Police week.
Jim & Ziena pictured at Penn Hills Community Day in August 2013. Jim loves to get out and support local community events!
Jim has been working hard in physical therapy. He's doing aquatic therapy, as well as physical therapy. Here he is working on the auto-ambulator.
Jim was invited to participate with Mines and Meadows as part of their pilot program for persons with disabilities. A very special thank you to the great orthotist Scott Emler, Chris Venus, and all of the great folks at Mines and Meadows for giving this amazing opportunity. Jim, you did amazing and we are all proud of you! KDKA and other local news stations had great coverage of the trip. We are hoping that it helps shed some light on this amazing program, and that others with disabilities will take advantage of what they have to offer!
Jim and his family were honored to walk with "Beckie's Battalion" at the MS Walk . Even in a wheel chair, he was determined to keep up with the rest of the pack, and completed the 5K!
Pool therapy has been a major part of Jim's life, especially recently. He endures the aquatic therapy at a Monroeville Rehab Center three times a week.
James Kuzak clenched his teeth in pain and slid into the warmth of the swimming pool. His legs wrapped in braces, he walked through the water with the guiding hand of a physical therapist, pausing when the muscle spasms became too much to bear. He put his head down on the pool's gutter and grimaced. It's part of the new routine for the Clairton Police Officer who once loved to drive and hunt and now cannot get out of bed without assistance. Even the day's most mundane tasks--getting dressed, getting into the car--require monumental effort.
"Every day I reach a point of frustration, but I have to find a way around it or through it because I don't have a choice. One year later, I'm quite comfortable in my own skin. I don't look back that often." --James Kuzak
(Photos and Article courtesy of Pittsburgh Post Gazette/Sadie Gurman)
Jim had a chance to participate in Clairton Elementary's Read Across America Day.
Officer Kuzak read "Street Safety Hints" to teacher Pam Black's second graders, and talked about traffic signs and other issues.
"Sitting there listening to them is so much fun because what you think you're going to hear them say is absolutely not what they say," Kuzak said. "We sit there and we talk to them. I think they can have such input into things they know and things they want to learn. Everything we went through with this book I think grabbed their attention to things that they're already involved in."
Jim recently has undergone two surgeries in hopes to correct some of the pain and spasms he has been having as a result of his injuries. His pain has been gradually getting worse over the past few months. Prayers are with him in hopes that some of his pain subsides after these surgeries.
Jim has even began to do therapy at home! Determination and hard work is paying off. "No Pain, No Gain" as his therapist says!
And anyone who knows Jim, knows he's always smiling! He is a true hero, a humble man and a huge inspiration. Keep up the great work Jim, we are all so proud of you!!!
Officer Kuzak has won the ASIS International Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for Heroism Above & Beyond award 11-03-11! Congratulations Jim, you deserve it!
Officer Kuzak has won the Pennsylvania Tactical Officer award! Congratulations Jim!
Officer Kuzak has been doing therapy most of his time, working hard every day.
He has recently started aquatic therapy.
He is determined to walk again, in fact he has already started walking with braces in physical therapy!
Also, Jim received his Therapy Dogs United handler certification through Moloney's K-9 Academy!
This is a very special event, because Jim's beautiful German Shepherd dogs Zar and Ziena have been by his side
the entire journey, and continue to give him unconditional love and support. Jim is very grateful for his family and friends!
Check back periodicaly, We will be posting more updates soon.