Friends, family, veterans and groups that support veterans gathered last Saturday at the home of Ron Hollis and his family, who live in rural Payette. The goal: to make life easier for the family following surgery expected at the end of October.

The couple found there are a lot of caring people around, as more than 80 showed up to take on a number of projects that will help Hollis when he gets home following the amputation of his left leg.

Ron Hollis’ saga began in 1983 following an accident with a bomb lifter while he was in the U.S. Air Force which damaged his lower left leg.

“It took off my leg,” Hollis said of the accident.

The leg was reattached, but the first try was not successful, he said. Even with a successful attempt, Hollis, 59, has had more than 30 surgeries and has struggled with Osteomyelitis and other infections.

The bone in his left calf has narrowed to where there is less than a 1-inch section holding the leg together, his wife, Nancy Hollis, said. If the leg breaks, it will mean emergency surgery, which they prefer not to have, she added.

There is a hole in his leg, Ron Hollis said, which drains all the time.

“For the last seven years it has been draining pretty good,” he said.

While the hope is that her husband will eventually get a prosthesis, Nancy said he will be in a wheelchair for a while, which is the main reason for the work around their property.

The work being done Saturday was mainly outside the home, and included such improvements as constructing a deck with a ramp, building a chicken coop with a ramp so Hollis can access it, building a better fence around a horse arena and putting insulation in his workshop.

While ramps and other things will be done inside to make it handicap accessible, the major thing is that it will be cleaned from top to bottom, and furniture with upholstery or cushions have to discarded because of infections, Nancy Hollis said.

The Hollis’ have six children, ranging in age from 17 to 32, and seven grandchildren, who will be benefiting from the new and fixed-up playground equipment around the house.

To help defray ongoing costs, a benefit was held at the Elks Lodge in Ontario on Saturday night, which included a raffle, along with a silent and live auctions.

Operation Grateful Hearts, a nonprofit organization which helps veterans military families, organized Saturday’s efforts, and other groups participating included Team Rubicon, Team Red, Blue and White and The Mission Continues.

Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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