California, Md., couple form foundation to aid quadriplegics
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Kathleen Norris's glance into Bryant Dent's room at the Chesapeake Shores nursing home changed both of their lives.
It was January 2009, and Norris was making one of her regular visits to the facility on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park. She and her husband, Kevin, of California, are associated with Cornerstone Baptist Church in Owings and, as part of a lay ministry with the church, have held services at Chesapeake Shores for about 12 years.
Kathleen Norris has made it a habit to visit with some of the less mobile residents in their rooms after services.
"I don't know why . . . I just looked in the door," Norris said of her initial meeting with Dent. "I saw him lift his head and look at me. I've been here ever since."
"She's become like a mother to me," Dent said.
A bulletin board next to Dent's bed attests to this relationship. It contains photos of Dent's mother and grandmother, both deceased, who took care of him in their Mechanicsville home after the years he spent in a hospital and rehabilitation center following a 1991 accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Dent went to Chesapeake Shores in April 2007.
The bulletin board also contains photos of the Norrises and their children and extended family.
Kathleen spends four to five hours a day with Dent. Kevin, a land surveyor, visits two to three times a week in the evenings.
"They just developed a special bond," said Jaime Reppel, unit manager at Chesapeake Shores.
Dent agrees that he has been adopted by a nice family.
"Yeah, thank God," he said.
The relationship has become more than a comfort to Dent. He and the Norrises have formed the nonprofit Bryant Dent Foundation to help quadriplegics and paraplegics in Southern Maryland gain access to specialized equipment that Medicaid and Medicare don't cover.