Benefit to help motorcycle accident victim, family

MERRIMACK – Diane Wilusz will come home Oct. 19, if only for an afternoon.

Wilusz was left a paraplegic after a Sept. 4 motorcycle accident near her family’s campground in Campton. Since Sept. 17, she has been at the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Concord undergoing physical therapy.

She is due to be released for good Oct. 29, but only if extensive work has first been done at her and her husband’s Brek Drive home to accommodate Wilusz’s wheelchair.

To help pay for the work, family friend Debbie Flerra established a fund in Wilusz’s name at the Bank of New Hampshire. Flerra also put together a fund-raiser Oct. 19 at Silo’s Steakhouse on Daniel Webster Highway.

There will be three seatings for a benefit dinner at the restaurant. Thanks to a donation by CarePlus Ambulance, Wilusz will attend the 5:30 p.m. seating, Flerra said.

Wilusz is excited about returning to Merrimack, Flerra said.

“It’s given her something to work for, too,” said Flerra, adding that Wilusz is undergoing eight arduous hours of therapy a day.

By helping Wilusz in her time of need, Flerra said she is returning a favor.

When Flerra’s husband, Michael, died of a heart attack at age 42 in 1988, Wilusz stepped in to help the family.

Michael Flerra was a popular Merrimack Youth Association coach, for whom the town skate park is now named. Wilusz then was a mom active in supporting the MYA.

“When he passed away, she was so supportive,” Flerra said.

Helping out with the fund-raiser also was a way for the owner of Silo’s Steakhouse to return a favor for the support he received after suffering a serious motorcycle accident in 2002.

The restaurant was closed for nearly a year after Dean Robbins’ accident, and he and his wife, Sue, jumped at the chance to help out the Wilusz family, Flerra said.

Diane Wilusz has been upbeat through the ordeal from the time the accident occurred, Flerra said.

“I started crying, and she was the one who was telling me, ‘It’s OK,’ ” Flerra said.

People have rallied around the family, including many contractors who have donated their time and skills to help with the work needed at the Wiluszes’ home.

Flerra especially praised carpenter Peter Davis of Merrimack, who has worked hours after his regular job to gut the family’s bathroom.

Among the work needed at the home was rebuilding the bathroom so Wilusz’s wheelchair could fit in the shower. Ramps have to be built and doorways widened throughout the house, according to Wilusz’s husband, Gary, who works as a waiter at a restaurant in Salem.

Though the labor is being donated, the Wiluszes needed help to buy construction materials, an expense not covered by the family’s insurance.

People have rallied to support the family, Flerra said. Some have even made contributions at the business Flerra owns, the Milford Fish Market.

“It gives me goose bumps every time somebody comes in and says, ‘I just wanted to help,’ ” Flerra said.