Community continues to rally around injured teacher

07/23/2013 3:03 PM

07/23/2013 3:04 PM

Former Olathe Northwest High School band director Rosa Adams-Bussard always suspected she had some pretty amazing friends and family. But a year after a fall down the stairs left her a quadriplegic, Adams-Bussard knows without a doubt just how special her support group really is.

She was staying with a friend last year when one night she opened a door to what she thought was an unlit bathroom. In an instant, she had fallen down the stairs of the home’s basement, damaging two vertebrae.

In the months following the accident, friends, family, colleagues and former students on both sides of the state line descended on Adams-Bussard and her husband John Bussard to offer meals and help with the construction of wheelchair ramps.

“I thought people would stop calling and it has been the opposite,” said Adams-Bussard, who worked 17 years as a bandleader at Lee's Summit North High School before moving to Olathe Northwest High School several years ago. “I love it. They are relentless. I am really glad that they don’t give up.”

Far from giving up, Adams-Bussard’s friends are now turning their attention to fundraising to help the couple deal with the mountains of medical bills that have been thrust upon them.

Tapping into Adams-Bussard’s lifelong love of music, the Olathe Civic Band will headline a concert in her honor at the Olathe Northwest High School auditorium on Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. Longtime friend Ed Colson is helping to organize the event for the second year in a row.

“We decided last year that with the astounding financial challenges Rosa and John have, maybe we should do a fundraiser,” Colson said. “We raised $8,000 last year.”

This year Colson is hoping to raise $10,000. Admission to the concert is free, but donations are encouraged. Colson hopes community members will generously open their wallets to help his dear friend.

While Adams-Bussard has made some improvement — she is starting to move her arms a little more and has begun opening her hands — progress is slow. The severity of the injuries has forever changed life for the Bussards.

The couple lives in a split-level home in Lee’s Summit, which proves challenging for Adams-Bussard now that she uses a wheelchair. The couple would like to add on a room to better accommodate her needs. And they need to make improvements to a wheelchair-accessible van that was given to them.

But all of these expenses add up, especially since neither of the Bussards is able to work. Adams-Bussard had to leave her job at Olathe Northwest to focus on her recovery. And John Bussard has become a full-time caretaker to his wife.

“I figured if I couldn’t take time out of my life to work with her, that would be pretty sad,” Bussard said.

Her friends are hopeful that fundraisers like the one at Olathe Northwest will help alleviate some of the financial challenges so that she can focus on getting stronger.

For a couple that is used to helping others, it is a new and life-changing experience to accept so much generosity from friends and family.

“We feel very honored,” Adams-Bussard said. “I just can’t believe the outpouring of the community and the people of Olathe and the Olathe Northwest school family. We are very humbled by this.”

In the year since her accident, Adams-Bussard has received regular visits from several of her students and their families. Some come bearing meals while others come to sit and visit with her on a Sunday afternoon so that her husband can get some much-needed rest.

For Adams-Bussard, who had been teaching high school music for more than 20 years, the visits are also an important connection to a profession she so dearly loves and hopes to return to one day.

“My goal is to teach again,” Adams-Bussard said. “It is my life’s passion.”

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