GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - On this Independence Day, some celebrated in a place they never thought they'd have to: Inside the walls of a rehabilitation hospital.
Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids continued with rehab services for patients Wednesday, but on the day we celebrate our country's independence, their patients are struggling to regain theirs.
Patients celebrated in whatever way they could.
An indoor picnic was held. Fireworks were simulated by children riding wheelchairs over bubble wrap to make a popping noise. The children loved it.
"I still think we live in a wonderful country even though there are parts of it we'd all like to change," said patient Hank Milinowski.
For the patients at Mary Free Bed, every day is about independence.
"We'll see how independent I wind up becoming," said Milinowski.
Normally, Milinowski would be a busy guy on the Fourth of July. He's one of the brains behind the Hollylock Lane Independence Day Parade.
But last month, things changed when he learned he had a muscle condition called Guillain–Barré Syndrome that would strip him of his ability to walk. His prognosis is uncertain, but most people do overcome the condition.
Milinowski is also a Vietnam veteran who served as a dentist in the military, though that has nothing to do with his current illness.
He wore red, white and blue on Independence Day, as he has in the many past years he shared with those who enjoyed the parade.
He said he has a lot of hope for his own independence.
"I'm going to recover," he said.
And he honored the Declaration of Independence that the day remembers.
"We're fortunate that they had the wisdom they did," said Milinowski.
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