RSS Stay updated. Subscribe to our RSS feed.
Stories That Move You.

Sometimes you find a great friend when you least expect it…

Bookmark and Share

From the Grand Rapids Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014
CLICK the newspaper pages to see larger version and open in new window.


Bookmark and Share


Ed Spoelma has three words of advice for anyone who hunts from a tree stand: Wear your harness.

Three years ago, Ed was hunting from a tree stand near Remus, Mich. when he fell 20 feet, breaking his sternum and back. He suffered permanent nerve damage and now has two rods in his back.

“I wasn’t expected to walk again,” says Ed, who is now 63 and lives in Hudsonville. “I tell everybody that Mary Free Bed made me walk. Mary Free Bed made me the person I am today.”

Ed lauds the dedicated nurses at Mary Free Bed for taking care of his every need and managing his pain. The doctors and therapists encouraged and inspired him.

“I started getting better and better. Pretty soon I had a walker. I left Mary Free Bed after about two weeks. Basically, I took my walker and walked out to the car to go home,” Ed says.

Ed continues to work at Premier Granite and Stone where he creates templates for stone cutters. He returns to Mary Free Bed for regular check-ups with Dr. Sam Ho, director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program.

And he still hunts – although not from a tree stand.

Ed says he still has his mobility because he works hard to stay active. “Every day is a blessing for me,” he says.

Bookmark and Share

Pam Hands

Sepsis survivor and Mary Free Bed alumna Pam Buschle received her new hands on Monday, October 27, 2014. The following are links to stories from local Grand Rapids media on the fitting and happiness that came from the day! Congratulations again go to Pam and the amazing strides she has made in the last year.

FOX 17 – New robotic hands changing West Michigan woman’s life

Grand Rapids Press – $100,000 robotic hands: ‘This feels more natural,’ sepsis survivor, amputee says

WOOD 8 – Quadruple amputee gets high-tech prosthetic hands

Bookmark and Share

Pam Buschle G.R.I.T. 1

“G-R-I-T, that is what I have in me,” chanted the students at Challenger Elementary in Kentwood as they prepared for a 2.6-mile trek around school property on Friday afternoon.

The children were fired up after attending a school assembly, “It Takes Grit to Run the Marathon of Life,” which featured Pam Buschle, more commonly known as “Mrs. Buschle” around the school, where she has been a social worker for more than two decades.

“You can overcome any challenge. You can stretch your brain to do anything if you don’t fear failing,” she told the students.

She should know.

Pam emerged the winner in a battle with sepsis last December, but she lost her arms and legs in the fight. She now walks on two prosthetic legs and will soon sport a pair of high-tech hands to help her resume the life she lived before quadruple amputations.

She wore one electronic hand during her speech and demonstrated how she has learned to pick up a can of soda, shake someone’s hand and give a high five. It took months and months of hard work and therapy at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to learn these and other basic skills, she said.

Pam Buschle G.R.I.T. 4

Then she told the students a story about a recent encounter with a stranger who offered to help her get comfortably seated near a table. Pam welcomed the assistance.

“She said to me, ‘I feel sad about what happened to you. It looks like it would be really hard. And then this person started to cry,” Pam told the students.

“I’ll bet many of you felt sad for me. You may have thought about how hard it would be not to have hands and …

Bookmark and Share

From the Grand Rapids Press - Sunday, September 12, 2014
CLICK the newspaper pages to see larger version and open in new window.


Bookmark and Share

“New camera day” is a special day because, at least for me, it represents the culmination of a lot of hard work. If you are a serious storyteller, then investing in a camera system requires thought, planning, renting, testing, and being honest with yourself about what you truly need. And because of the price associated with production gear, “new camera days” can be (and probably should be) few and far between. They are cause for celebration…a celebration of the stories they will help make possible.

GH4 Gear Unboxing 1

I’m excited to share a few photos of Mary Free Bed’s recent Panasonic Lumix GH4 unboxing and to talk a bit about why we decided to move in this direction. For the past few years, the Panasonic HPX250 and the Canon EOS 7D have been my video and stills workhorses, respectively. As our main video camera, the HPX250 has great ergonomics and I like this style of shooter very much…professional XLR audio inputs, built in ND filters, waveforms, zebras, a robust AVC-Intra codec, 10 bit-4:2:2 color space, a nice 1080P image…it’s a great, all-in-one-box solution. The only issue IMO is that its tiny sensor makes for a very “TV News-like” video image. And I want to get more cinematic.

GH4 Gear Unboxing 4

Released in 2009, the 7D was Canon’s flagship APS-C sized sensor camera body (until the 7D Mark II was announced at Photokina this past September) The vast majority of Mary Free Bed stills are shot on this camera and I have also been using it on a good deal of video shoots too. When you put good glass in front of the 7D’s sensor and …

Bookmark and Share

Guest Blog by Becca Willis, wife of Mary Free Bed alumni

On September 25, 2013, Adam Willis had a life-changing accident on a mountain bike trail. He went over his handlebars and hit the ground head first. His neck was snapped back and he sustained a spinal cord injury. Without his helmet, he would have probably had a brain injury as well. Immediately, he could not move from the neck down. He never lost consciousness and he laid face down in the dirt aware of everything while a friend called 911 for help and tried to direct EMT to the remote trails. He spent 5 days in the ICU and had surgery to fuse several of his vertebrae back together, but only more time would tell how much damage was done to his spinal cord.

Even within the first few days after his accident, he was showing good signs. He could will his toes to wiggle. He could move his shoulders. He could flex his leg muscles. It took 9 days after his accident, but he began to be able to slightly move his fingers. Throughout the next 7 weeks as he worked through his rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed, progress was made at a rate that surprised many.

He walked out of Mary Free Bed at his time of release. At his 3 month appointment, his surgeon even asked him, “How does it feel to be a miracle?”

Adam poses next to the ramp in which he had his mountain bike accident.

Adam poses next to the ramp in which he had his mountain bike accident.

His body has not recovered fully to where it once was – and it likely never will. But he knows that he has been given an …

Bookmark and Share

From October 2014 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine

Congrats to volunteer and athlete Patrick Besta on making the list! :)



Bookmark and Share


For the first time in the history of ArtPrize, visitors with limited mobility will have free access to wheelchairs.

Thanks to support from the Mary Free Bed Guild, home medical equipment suppliers Airway Oxygen Inc. and, of course, ArtPrize, at least 10 wheelchairs will be available for the duration of ArtPrize, which begins September 24 and will conclude October 12.

The wheelchairs and instructions on their use will be issued from the ArtPrize Hub (all you need is a photo I.D.), 41 Sheldon Blvd., SE., in downtown Grand Rapids.

Also for the first time, a 1.2 mile route (Accessart Path) has been specially curated for visitors who experience differences in mobility. Additional information about the pathway will be available at the ArtPrize Hub.


Bookmark and Share

Older Posts »