Because of the generosity of his dad’s workplace and community, the question for 10-year-old Damarius Roman and his family is not what to do on Father’s Day, but how many places they can go and what kinds of experiences they can have.
Physically challenged since birth, Damarius has undergone five surgeries for his clubbed feet and was subsequently diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Damarius is completely wheelchair-bound, and as he has grown in height and weight, it’s become more challenging to move him into any type of transportation to take him to doctors, on family outings, and to play dates with friends.
In recent years, he could not leave the house — ever — without his father Mike having to hoist him up on his shoulders and put him in and out of their car. It became impossible for his mother Marilyn to do it by herself while Mike was at work — in 2013, it became necessary for her to leave her full-time job to serve as a caregiver for Damarius, who she also homeschools.
But because Damarius and his family refused to let circumstance dictate his happiness, Capitol Lighting, where Mike has worked for 11 years, launched a donations challenge companywide by spreading the word about the Roman family’s GoFundMe website. Hearing of Capitol’s outreach, David’s Wishing Star Fund granted a matching donation to the Capitol Lighting donation so a van could be purchased and retrofitted for wheelchair accessibility.
The result? Damarius’ entire family, including siblings Yazmarie, 13, and Dominick, 4, were able to travel the Capitol Lighting site in Eatontown to show off the van and give the employees their thanks.
CEO Ken Lebersfeld, whose great-grandparents opened the first Capitol Lighting branch in Newark in 1924, says that it was only natural for the company to rally for one of its own. That’s because through the company’s Making Lives Brighter program, the employees themselves help identify missions that they find most meaningful for their communities.
Annually, Capitol Lighting donates more than $170,000 and hundreds of volunteer hours to community nonprofits.
“We encouraged everyone we knew to join us in helping make a difference for the Roman family,” said Mr. Lebersfeld. “Their courage, tenacity, passion and love ‘enlighten’ Damarius’ life every day. Each of us at Capitol wanted to help turn up that brightness.”