Hommer's legacy lives in foundation
Missy Johnson
Budgeteer News
Last Updated: Friday, November 05th, 2004 01:02:29 PM

Sandi Hendrickson will no longer have to use a wheelchair ramp without hand rails or an unfinished handicap bathroom made up of nothing but appliances and studs.

A grant from the foundation High Exposure is helping Hendrickson make the impossible possible.
High Exposure is a foundation started by the late mountain climber Ed Hommer, from Minnesota. Hommer, who had prosthetic legs, started the foundation to provide prostheses for those in need. Hommer died in 2002 while training for his second attempt to scale Mt. Everest and left High Exposure with, as one board member put it, “a lot of loose strings.”

After a few months of restructuring, the board members of High Exposure released an official mission statement, pledging to “help fulfill the needs of amputees by funding their expenses, all or part, that enable them to live more productive active lives when insurance coverage is limited or non-existing.”

Since then, a grant from High Exposure made it possible for Nawang Sherpa, a friend of Hommer’s from Nepal who lost his lower right leg in a motorcycle accident, to become the first amputee to summit Mt. Everest.

Hendrickson doesn’t want to summit any mountains; she’d just like to get her house fixed.
“We would not be able to get this done without the grant,” said Hendrickson. “Too many medical bills.”
After an aneurysm 30 years ago, Hendrickson lost the use of one of her arms and some use of her legs. Since then she has been in and out of the hospital for 30 surgeries. She’s broken her right hip, fractured her pelvis, suffered from countless broken ribs and is now in a wheel chair after breaking her ankle in August.

Also since her aneurysm, Hendrickson raised a daughter and is now a grandmother of three, has maintained her dedication as a volunteer for a lengthy list of organizations, teaches at the Lake Superior Zoo and is anxiously awaiting the chance to start working once again.

For those reasons, the five High Exposure board members, Tom Halverson and Sarah and John Cron, agreed Hendrickson was an ideal candidate to receive their grant.

“Right when we were finishing the restructuring phase, Sandi’s mom stopped by my house,” said Brandy Meadows, a High Exposure board member. “She told me that Sandi broke her ankle and was in the hospital with pins in it. I then went to visit Sandi in the hospital a couple days later. She told me she wouldn’t be able to work for a while and they were in the midst of remodeling their house, so everything came to a standstill.”

Meadows stopped by Hendrickson's house a few weeks after she got out of the hospital.
“I noticed her ramp was in desperate need of hand rails," said Meadows. “I could just see her going right over the side in the wheel chair.”

Meadows invited Hendrickson to fill out an application for the grant, and on Wednesday night the board presented Hendrickson with a $1,200 gift certificate to Home Depot. Home Depot is also kicking in another 10 percent off Hendrickson’s purchases.

Hendrickson said the grant was unexpected.

“I’ve done so many volunteer activities and to get something back means a lot,” said Hendrickson. “I just didn’t give, I received something, and it’s more special than money. I guess what goes around comes around.”

Hendrickson said she’ll be leaving the construction up to her husband of 27 years, Bob.
“My wonderful husband, I leave it up to him,” said Hendrickson. Meadows said that Bob probably won’t turn away anyone that wants to swing a hammer with him, too.

High Exposure will give up to $2,000 per person. In the case of Nawang Sherpa, however, High Exposure gave $3,000 just because it was Hommer’s wish to see Sherpa summit Everest.

“It’s not just about giving grant money,” said Meadows. “It’s about what goes around comes around, give unto others as one day it may come back to you in your time of need. No one knows what lies ahead for any of us. Cancer, MS, MD, diabetes, accidents and amputations. We always think that happens to someone else or someone else’s family, but one never knows who or when, let alone why. Stuff happens, life happens; then you move on the best way you can.”

High Exposure is looking for other grant applicants. To receive an application, e-mail HighExposure4Ed@aol.com.

Currently, High Exposure is working on getting a pair of legs made for a young man in Seattle, Wash. who lost his lower legs at the ankle to frost bite, just like Hommer.

“He’s riding his mountain bike 15 miles a day, also like Ed, to get ready to try and ski again if he can get a better pair of legs like Ed’s,” said Meadows.