Rich Romaine has always been the first to help others, but has never asked for anything in return.
But after a life-changing injury that forced the Hopatcong dad to have his leg amputated on Sept. 24, he is hoping for the opportunity to walk again and another chance at living a normal life.
Romaine, 44, who has been volunteering in Hopatcong for many years in Boy Scouts, flag football, recreation basketball, and softball, is hoping the community will now help him by donating money toward a prosthetic leg that costs $40,000.
Three years ago, Romaine's life was put on hold when he fell 30 feet off a roof while working as a carpenter. His right heel was completely destroyed and his L5 lumbar was pressure fractured.
Since his fall back in September 2009, doctors have tried to save his foot through 12 surgeries, but complications arose and they were not able to. After several difficult years struggling to recover, the doctors recommended an amputation because of the lack of improvement in his limbs.
Now the only option left to bring him back to enjoy his normal, active life would be to add in a prosthetic.
Romaine's nephew Justin Romaine organized a website that is accepting donations for the prosthetic leg, which has already raised more than $2,000 in just five days. He says his uncle has had a "fantastic attitude" the whole time, and is someone who really deserves all the help he can get.
Justin described Rich Romaine as an "extremely hard, dedicated worker" and a "go-getter" in all aspects of life from being a devoted father and starting his own business.
"He's somebody who is really actively involved in the community, and he's somebody who really deserves to have another chance at life," Justin Romaine said. "He's not going to sit around and do nothing, he's going to get up do something with his life."
Rich Romaine had lived in Hopatcong for 13 years where he raised his sons, Kyle, 13, and Zachary, 12, up until last year. Unable to pay his mortgage while out of work and having to pay numerous medical bills, his house was foreclosed and he moved to Mount Olive.
Rich Romaine is still active in the Hopatcong community, and his sons still participate in borough clubs including the street hockey league and Boy Scouts.
Rich Romaine said he is proud to call Hopatcong his home, and is "amazed" at what everyone in the community has already done for him.
"The community has been great," he said. "I've made so may friends, and I appreciate everything that Hopatcong has taught me and my kids, and done for us."
Rich Romaine, who had been working on houses all over New Jersey for 25 years right out of high school, would want nothing more than to get back into his normal life and begin working again.
"I can't stand sitting home," he said. "I'm excited to go back to work, I can't wait to go back to work, so hopefully this points me in a new direction where I can start working again and get a job."
The past few years of his life have included doctors visits and volunteering, with the number one priority of raising his kids.
He says this whole experience has affected his life in more ways than people can imagine, and that he is making the most out of a difficult situation. He said he realized he took walking for granted, and never thought about the daily struggles that others have to go through.
"I'm embracing it. I'm not denying it, because this made me realize different things and made me grow up a lot," he said. "It made me realize how there are certain really good people out there willing to help."
With his positive attitude and motivation to get back to doing what he loves—being active with his kids and carpentry—doctors are hopeful that he will be back on his feet if he gets the prosthetic leg.
"The doctor said there's no holding me down," he said. "I'll be up and out only because my motivation need. I love working with kids, and my kids, and being a part of society. It's not going to hold me down."
Those who wish to make a donation for Rich Romaine can visit the donation website.