GAYLA'S ANGELS: A Community Comes Together - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

GAYLA'S ANGELS: A Community Comes Together

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By Alex Schuman

aschuman@myabc5.com

@alexschuman

"A huge amount of people in Indianola know who Gayla Tighe is," said Nancy Lickiss, Gayla's friend.

Gayla first gained everyone's attention by working as an organist at Redeemer's Lutheran Church.

Back in 2010, Gayla was helping friends clean-up their basement after a tornado.  They tried to carry a wet mattress up the stairs when she fell back just three steps, and injured her spinal cord.  

The damage caused her to lose use of her arms and legs. 

"When I was laying in the hospital bed and all I could do was just shrug my shoulders - it was at this point that I knew that my life had forever changed in one second," said Gayla.

Immediately it became apparent to her friends and congregation Gayla would need help.

Her friend Nancy Lickiss started sending out a monthly email asking people to volunteer.

"Somebody might sign up for five days, and I think that's perfect," Lickiss said.  "I can put them where I need them the most."

After three years, there has yet to be an empty slot to help Gayla.

"I am continually amazed," said Gayla.  "Even though I'm getting better, I have people that call me."

 "They don't want me to think that they've forgotten about me."

People sit in waiting rooms for hours at doctor's offices, drive her to Des Moines for physical therapy, bring her food, and take her to coffee.

The church she once played at even has a wall honoring her.

"Why would they?  People are so busy busy busy," said Gayla.  "They will always be a very important part of my life, and that's why I like to refer to them as my angels."

These volunteers' friendship and daily conversation have played a big part in her recovery. And Gayla's Angels do not plan to stop.

Nancy, and the countless others, will stick it out no matter how long they have to help.

"I love her," said Nancy.  "She's my friend, and she'd do it for me."

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