• Home
  • News
  • Army Amputee in Florida Quilts New Life with Gift from WVFV and Gammill, Inc
Excited amputee Burgess receives quilting machine

Army Amputee in Florida Quilts New Life with Gift from WVFV and Gammill, Inc

Disabled Cape Coral veteran pieces together quilts, life with help from donors STACEY HENSON, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Published 5:11 p.m. ET Jan. 12, 2018 | Updated 5:27 p.m. ET Jan. 12, 2018 With each stitch, retired US Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Burgess is piecing together his life, shattered by an explosion when he served in Afghanistan. Recently, the Cape Coral, Florida resident received a $39,000 state-of-the-art quilting system adapted for his injuries by non-profit Work Vessels for Vets, Inc. and Gammill, a West Plains, Missouri-based manufacturer of quilting equipment. "It's the Cadillac of all machines," said John Niekrash, chairman and founder of Work Vessels. The Mystic, Conn.-based agency equips veterans with the tools they need to start a business or pursue a career. It has helped more than 1,600 veterans in the past decade. "Our belief is if you put your life on the line, you deserve more," he said. With the machine and upgraded computer system by Statler, Burgess will launch his business, One Foot Quilting. He will soon set up a Facebook page by that name for people to contact him. Burgess joined the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan in August 2011, leaving his wife, Genette, and daughters, Gracie, then 9, and Kaylee, then 8, in Garfield Heights, Ohio. Months later, he was in the Helmand Province aiding a bomb-clearing mission. “I was the one gathering the intel from the locals and trying to find the IEDs,” he said. “I was approached by an Afghani who wanted to show me where an IED was located. I turned so I could follow him and as I did, I stepped on an IED." He lost his right leg below the knee, sustained damage to his left leg, fractured his right hand and had a traumatic brain injury. Genette Burgess took the call from the Army, she remembers, at 5:28 p.m. Nov. 20 telling her Dan Burgess was an amputee and in critical condition. It took a week to move him from Afghanistan to Germany, and more to Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He spent the next three years recovering at Fort Sam Houston military medical center, medically retiring in 2014. "It's like a miracle from the hospital to walking around now," Gracie said, recalling hard days for the family. He graduated from physical rehab by running an Army 10 miler on his prosthetic leg. The Burgess family moved to Cape Coral in 2014 to a house provided by the Military Warriors Support Organization. One day, while joking with Genette, Burgess said they should join a beginning quilting class. They did, and it launched a new passion. "He found it calmed his PTSD and gave him purpose in life," said the Hon. Catherine W. Cook, executive director of Work Vessels, in discussing his application for aid. "He could support his family by finishing other people's quilts." Burgess has been piecing his own quilt tops but had to send the projects to a longarm quilter for finishing. A longarm quilting machine allows the user to quilt together the back, batting and quilt top, either by guiding the machine by hand or using computerized software. Quilting relaxes him, Burgess said. “It allows me to see something that I can easily produce, especially on days I am wheelchair bound," he said. He has won numerous awards at county fairs and other venues for his quilt designs. Friday's ceremony at the Burgess home included a presenting of colors, a quilt display, and nearly 20 Gammill employees, 12 of them from the Missouri headquarters, as well as the Statler family, whose matriarch Mildred, 84, had helped weld Burgess' computer. The Statler by Gammill 30-12 is a state-of-the art computerized longarm quilting machine, has hydraulics that will allow Burgess to adjust the height to his comfort Michelle Weaver, General Manager of Gammill, said the donation is a way for the company to give back. "It fits with why we do what we do," she said, "empowering people, especially quilters, to achieve their dreams." The local Gammill dealer, Itching for Stitching out of Dade City, will help Burgess learn to work the machine. He hopes to finish quilts for the Quilts of Valor project, as well as palliative care quilts once he gets the machine up and running. "I can't wait to figure it out," he said
  • Tcf
  • Homedepot
  • Cgb
  • Veterans Farm
  • Tmc
  • Aetna
  • Cammo
  • Ebv
  • Ihs
  • Mbc
  • Amvets
  • Wholefoods
  • Newman
  • Valenti
  • Gesswein
  • Dime Bank
  • Farmer Veteran
  • Mohegan