by Carrie C. Causey
YOUNGSVILLE — Harold Willamson Sr. said he knows hospital costs are increasing, but he tries not to let them bother him.
“The hospital bills are rolling in, and that’s a fact of life that the hospital has to be paid for, but you can’t put a price on your son,” he said. Williamson’s son is currently hospitalized with severe burns.
But luckily community members have been trying to help ease at least part of that burden. On June 1, concerned residents will host a chicken barbecue plate sale at Luddy Park in Youngsville beginning at noon.
Just before Christmas, on Dec. 14, Harold Williamson Jr., 27, was cooking hamburger on the stove when it flared up. Williamson, who is blind, attempted to throw the pan out the front door, tripped, and caught fire himself as well as setting fire to his Youngsville home.
“He has third degree burns on 70 percent of his body,” his father said. “He’s been at the UNC Burn Center in a medically induced coma since then. They say it would be too painful for him to be awake.”
Until last week, Harold Williamson Sr. and his wife, Brenda, have been making the 91-mile roundtrip trek from their home after work to visit their son each day, except Sunday.
“She finds peace working during the day and goes to the hospital at night,” he said of Brenda, who works in the medical profession at an office in Youngsville. Williamson said it was becoming too much for her, so now they only go every other day.
He’s a fighter
Harold is a Franklinton High School graduate. He began to lose his eyesight in 2003 and it deteriorated to the point that he is now completely blind. He went to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind for two years to learn more independent living.
“He won’t accept that he is blind or handicapped,” Williamson said.
His father describes Harold as a “happy individual who loves life.”
“I have VHS tapes of him and his brother when they were small and he was the happiest kid you ever saw in your life,” Williamson said.
He prefers his independence, opting not for a wheelchair at places, but rather “tries to walk behind with both hands on your shoulders.”
He can read a little Braille, but prefers to use technological advancements on his computer and phone for things like going through restaurant menus to pick out food before he gets there.
Pray for a miracle
No one has been able to talk with Harold since the accident. Harold’s 25-year-old brother, who serves in the Navy, has been keeping a journal to make sure Harold doesn’t feel like he’s missed anything once he pulls through.
Just before Christmas, Williamson said Harold’s brother also went on his computer and found a list of the gifts that Harold had purchased and dispersed them out accordingly.
“We bought gifts, but it wasn’t the same,” Williamson said of the holiday. “It happened, but it didn’t.”
They also brought cookies to the medical staff at the hospital — a relationship which has grown during the last five months.
“We’ve developed a good rapport with the staff and doctors at the UNC Burn Center. They give us support,” Williamson said.
And so have the residents in Franklin County and elsewhere, including donations from California, Virginia, and Georgia.
“The community has been great,” Williamson said. “Churches have donated money, gas money. Churches and individuals have prepared food and brought it to the house. It’s overwhelming.”
When people ask if there is anything they can do, Williamson tells them to pray.
“I’ve seen the doctors holding their head down or are not satisfied with his progress,” Willaimson said. “But I’m very religious and believe in the power of God.”
He prefers people not go to the hospital because there is nothing to see and it increases potential for infection. None of the three skin graph surgeries have worked and Harold’s had pneumonia. Last week, he was put on dialyses because his kidneys are failing.
“But he’s still holding on. He’s still fighting.”
“The community support has been overwhelming,” Williamson continued. “If I ever go on shows like The Price is Right and they tell me to say hello to people, I could do a complete show of just people I want to say ‘hey’ to and ‘thank you.’”
“To the residents of Franklin County, I ask that you pray for him, and I thank you in advance for your prayers.”
William Mitchell and his wife, Melanie, host a fundraiser to help burn victim Harold Williamson Jr., who has been in a coma since December.
A chicken plate barbecue fundraiser will take place June 1, beginning at noon in Luddy Park in Youngsville.
Donations can also be made to the Coastal Federal Credit Union in Wakefield.