Viewer helps blind man dying from leukemia who had no access to running water
CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield man, who says he's dying from leukemia, contacted 12 On Your Side because he needs a basic necessity: running water.
He's been living without it for months and was desperate for help, but a day after our report aired, Stemmle Plumbing Repair was at Martin's home.
"It's been a lot, lot of struggles," says Boyd Martin.
Struggle seems to characterize Martin's life. He has been struggling without running water since March, after a wind storm came through and damaged his well. A plumber said the foot valve needs to be replaced.
"But they said normally when they replace the foot valve, they replace the pump, because something about replacing the foot valve makes the pump go bad," Martin said. "They gave me a price of $1500 to replace it."
Boyd says he doesn't have that kind of money, so he and his three dogs have been living off of bottled water.
"This is the pan that I use to wash and do my dishes and bathe and do my laundry," Martin said. "And I use about 15 gallons of water a week to survive and drink and give water for the dogs."
His only income is the $1000 a month he gets in disability.
"Between paying my utilities and buying food, it only leaves me about $50 left over a month, so coming up with $1500 is not very easy at all," Martin said.
A quick glance around Boyd's house lets you know water is not his only struggle. He lives in a home that is in major disrepair and infested with bugs.
It belonged to his parents. He cared for them until they passed. Then two years ago, he was diagnosed with stage four leukemia.
"The doctor gave me three to five years as a possible...to be able to survive the disease," Martin said.
As a result of the leukemia, Boyd has lost his sight.
Weeks before he was diagnosed he married the love of his life. But after he suddenly became sick and was no longer able to work - she bolted.
"When I first got sick, she said if I died, she would want to crawl into the casket with me, and I guess she changed her mind," Martin said.
Boyd has also been diagnosed with a MRSA infection, which is why running water is that much more important for cleanliness. Right now, he's boiling water every day.
"That's my routine, I do it every day," Martin said. "I boil water every day to try to use as hot water as I can to keep the germs down. Every day, I run the risk between the leukemia and the MRSA of any kind of germs could be very serious and put me in infection."
He says he knows his situation is dire, but it's better than being homeless. He says he would be satisfied if he just had water.
"I've always spent my life helping others, so it's been a real struggle asking for help," Martin said. "It's just been one kick in the teeth after another."
After seeing the story on NBC12, Stemmle Plumbing Repair went to the home the next day to fix the well, free of charge.
"We just had to come and take care of that, what I was working on wasn't as much an emergency as this," said Stemmle mechanic Robert Wilson. "Going without water is very important, so I was glad to do it."
"I'm so excited, I can hardly sit still. I can't wait," Martin said. "First thing I'm gonna do is take a shower and wash clothes."
But when he went to wash clothes he discovered his washing machine was broken.
Stemmle replaced it instantly.
Martin says getting running water was exciting. Anything else is just over the top.
"He was very grateful, and my skin is crawling talking to you about it. It makes me feel good," Wilson said.
But it hasn't stopped there.
"It has been like a whirlwind," Martin said.
Volunteers who heard Martin's story have responded. A team showed up last weekend to start tackling the landscaping. Progress made, but still lots to be done.
Someone has committed to paying for roof work, so his kitchen ceiling won't cave completely in.
Folks have dropped off dog food, clothing and water.
The calls from those offering help keep coming. Martin is humbled and thankful.
A look around his house reveals why. He told one caller to just come on by.
"And I told her the best thing to do is she was welcome to bring some of her friends and walk through the house and see what they can help with," Martin said.
Then there are those who have donated money to a gofundme account that has raised more than $6,500.
"You've got to be kidding me," Martin said. "Oh my gosh, that is so awesome!"
He became emotional speaking to NBC12's Eric Philips by telephone.
"I actually got really emotional and was boo-hooing like a little baby, but it just shows how much it really meant to me," Martin said. "This would not have happened if you wouldn't have taken the time to look at my message and contact me and then come out here. Every person that calls me, it make it even more overwhelming to me that all these people just wanna help little old me."
Martin say it's bolstered his faith in mankind, and he's already planning how to give back once he gets back on his feet.
"I already feel like I'm in heaven, because I have so many angels around me," Martin said.
If you'd like to assist in the effort to help Boyd Martin message Eric there if you'd like to volunteer at Martin's home.
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