LOCKPORT, NY - "We did everything together, everything," recalled Lee Rosselli, 64, reflecting on his 32-year marriage to his wife Rose, 51.
Inseparable in life, the two nearly shared death when they were riding their motorcycle down a section of Transit Road during a beautiful fall afternoon last October, when an SUV suddenly made a left turn directly in their path.
"I remember being on the hood of his SUV with my motorcycle, and then sliding off and I heard a crack, and that was when I broke my back," Rosselli told WGRZ-TV. "I remember them telling me that the helicopter will be here in a minute....then I heard them say, we got one for your wife too, it'll be right behind you," he said.
Not far behind Mr. and Mrs. Rosselli, when the couple arrived via Mercy Flight at ECMC, was their son, Matt
"I was pulled into a room, and about 6 or 8 people came in...the doctor had informed us that it wasn't't looking good for either of my parents...and we started to discuss whether to contact a funeral home."
However, five months and twelve surgeries later, Lee and Rose Rosselli continue their recovery.
Rose, is less far along in her recovery. She remains hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury, sustained when she was thrown from the motorcycle, and, after her helmet flew off, landed on her head in a parking lot.
Her husband is now recuperating at the Terrace View long-term care facility, and is learning to walk with a prosthetic leg, after his own left leg was lost in the accident.
The couple speaks mostly by phone, and Lee's eyes light up when he speaks of Rose.
"She's more worried about me than herself and she's worse than I am," he said.
Matt Rosselli, who left his job to tend to his parents affairs, found out they both do not qualify for the subsidized nursing care they will need when they eventually get home, because his dad's monthly supplemental social security income, is two dollars too much.
"When they told me that at the Social Security office I thought it was ridiculous. I mean, why don't they just reduce his benefit by two dollars a month?" he wondered.
His father said an alternative; presented to him by the Social Security office, was unacceptable.
"They told me I could divorce my wife and then she would qualify....that's not happening. I'll manage...and just do the best I can to take care of my family," he said.
To help defray their future costs, Matt has organized a fundraiser on behalf of his parents (details below) for this weekend.
The South Lockport Fire Department is donating the hall to hold it in, Molinaros Restaurant will provide the food, and countless other businesses have stepped up with door prizes.
"I heard about this and just wanted to do something," said Scott Kirkland, manager of Audio One on Transit Road. "It feels good to be able to help," he said, when presenting Matt with a gift certificate toward the installation of a remote car starter, which will be auctioned off to help raise money.
Meanwhile, contractors and friends have provided labor and materials, free or at cost, to help renovate the couple's Clinton Street home to suit what will be their lifelong disabilities. Since January, they have been working to widen hallways and doors to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, and installing a handicapped accessible bathroom among other improvements.
When reflecting on the assistance being provided, Lee Rosselli began to weep.
"I just get so emotional when I think about that," he said. "I never knew I had this many friends."
"If we could just get some support, to raise some money to help my parents it would be great," said Matt. "I'd appreciate anything."
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Chief Photojournalist Andy DeSantis. Follow Dave On Twitter:@DaveMcKinley2
The benefit for Lee and Rose Rosselli will be be held from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the South Lockport fire hall on Transit Road. There will be a pasta dinner, and live music. A Chinese auction and 50/50 split raffles are also planned.
Tickets $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Advance tickets can be obtained by calling Matt Rosselli at 341-0463 or Sophia Eddy at 310-4466.
Cash contributions can be mailed to Matt Rosselli, 347 Walnut St., apartment 2, Lockport, NY 14094.