Newfields rallies around longtime community activist
By GRETYL MACALASTER
Union Leader Correspondent | October 27. 2013 7:33PM
Simon Heslop of Newfields, left, a TTR Steering committee member, Matt Bennett, right, a Newfields Elementary School teacher, and Mark Whitney, of Newfields, rear with Steve Shope , center, at the Exeter Lions Club 5K Walk-a-thon in Newfields on Aug. 22. (Courtesy)
A color guard from the Colebrook Fire Department leads a procession of firefighters into the Colebrook Elementary School parking lot prior to Sunday's funeral service for Colebrook native and Barnstead Fire & Rescue Lieutenant Jacob Weber, held inside the school gym. The 30-year-old resided in Underhill, Vt., where he served as a volunteer firefighter as well. He started as an Explorer and later a firefighter in Colebrook, joining the Barnstead department after graduation from NHTI with a degree in fire science and investigation. Several fire departments and fire professionals collaborated to hold the weekend of services for their fallen brother, including honor guards during visitation on Saturday, providing the ceremonies on Sunday, assisting the family and covering Colebrook's station throughout. (Courtesy of The News and Sentinel, Colebrook)
He serves as a volunteer firefighter, sits on the town's conservation commission and often attended school functions with his two children as they were growing up.
But in April, a freak bicycling accident changed his life forever. On a trail in Exeter he had ridden many times before, a series of unfortunate events sent him over his handlebars and onto his head.
It has only been six months since the accident, and it is still difficult to talk about as Shope adjusts to days full of physical and occupational therapy. He's unable to do most things by himself.
Trail to Recovery Fund
Almost immediately after Shope was injured, friends in the cycling community created the Trail to Recovery Fund to help Shope and his family deal with the astronomical expenses associated with a spinal injury.
Shope runs a small business, Exeter Environmental, with his wife, Julie, and is self-insured. He said his insurance has been great, but there are things it will not pay for, including continuing physical therapies and some types of equipment that are crucial to his recovery.Newfields resident Kelly McGowan said members of the community rallied before Shope even came home, renovating his home to make it more accessible, mowing the lawn and bringing meals for the family.
"Steve has touched a lot of people … but it also speaks to the community of people responding with their time and effort and donations," McElwee said.
Shope said at first it was not easy to accept help of any kind.
"At first I had trouble with it. I like to do things myself and be independent. It was difficult for me," Shope said. "Obviously I've changed my position on that because I can't do anything on my own, so I have learned to accept help, and having all my friends around is really what gets me through the day."
Recovery gala Nov. 8
Shope will have a chance to personally thank a broader group of supporters during the Steve Shope Trail to Recovery Fund Gala & Live Auction event being held Nov. 8 at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth.
McGowan said everyone can take something away from the Trail to Recovery Fund effort and Shope's story.
For more information about Shope and the Trail to Recovery Fund, go to trailtorecovery.com.