Grace Jones Memorial Fund Looking to Double Support This Year

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

When the wheels finally wore out, Astri Guyder says she just didn’t know what to do.

As a grad student, she had very little money. And her husband, who suffers from paralysis, uses his manual wheelchair to get around.

But then the wheels gave out, and all at once, both she and her husband were left trying to figure out what to do.

“My husband uses a power wheelchair for mobility needs outside the home and a manual wheelchair to get around at home,” she explained. “Unfortunately, Medicare only covers one or the other type of chair. Since power chairs are more expensive, he chose to use his insurance for that device. When the wheels on his manual chair began to wear and ultimately fail, we did not have money in our budget to cover those extra costs.”

Where could she turn?

Fortunately, she came across the Grace Jones Memorial Fund, which was established in memory of Grace Jones, who joined the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky in 1984 and later became a Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology in 1999 in the renamed Department of Biology.

After suffering a severe stroke in 2000, she inspired many as she overcame difficult physical challenges and continued her academic teaching and research in Biology which she so much enjoyed. She passed away in 2019.

Gifts to this fund are used to help persons with physical disabilities caused by conditions such as strokes, as well as their families. Funds can be used to pay for adult day care, medical equipment, therapy services (such as PT, OT, or Speech), transportation costs related to attending disability support services, short-term respite care, program development, education, assistive technology and marketing.

The Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network, a collaborative team that advocates to empower communities impacted by disability and is directed by the UK College of Health Sciences, has the privilege of helping to oversee this fund, a decision that was made by her husband, Davy Jones, PhD, Professor of Toxicology.

Guyder said she and her husband realize how fortunate they are.

“We were so appreciative to be chosen as recipients for the Grace Jones Memorial fund,” she said. “The funds allowed us to purchase a set of wheels with the specialized rims he needs to be to push with his level of paralysis. It was really a relief to receive those funds, so we no longer had to worry about his broken old set of wheels. Now he has a set of reliable wheels, and they are working well today.”

This year, five requests were awarded $4,200 total in support, including:

  • Funding of additional community-based out-patient therapy sessions to support a person’s recovery.
  • Purchase of new wheels for a person’s manual wheelchair.
  • Purchase of a chair lift to help with transfers.
  • Purchase of additional parts for a ceiling track support system to allow a person mobility in a larger portion of their home.
  • Purchase of a scooter to allow a person community mobility.

But, Patrick Kitzman, Ph.D. PT, Professor of Physical Therapy and Director of the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network, said there were nine applications — and there are more and more each year.

Kitzman says the KARRN wants to help fund more applicants — and do so twice a year.  

“This issue that (Guyder) and her husband are going though is common, and a reason why funds such as the Grace Jones Memorial fund are desperately needed,” Kitzman said.

“Situations like that, where his independence is threatened, are extremely frightening and we felt intense pressure with the idea of him losing his mobility in maneuvering himself in the manual chair,” Guyder said. “I truly appreciate that the Grace Jones Memorial fund gives an open opportunity for similar individuals/families like ours. To see him independently mobile while working from home — without worrying of another potential broken wheel, which puts us financially strained or sacrificing his independence/quality of life — means everything for me. 

“If you are thinking of donating to the Grace Jones Memorial fund, please realize how important your generosity is,” she continued. “The funds are truly a lifesaver for people in difficult situations or in their pathway to becoming self-sufficient where medical insurance does not cover expensive, necessary durable medical equipment.”


​For further information or to make a gift by phone, contact Loralyn Cecil at (859) 218-0563.