Dryden youth leaves legacy
Danny Kassab and family transform adversity into inspiration for others
September 09, 2009TRI-CITY AREA — July 22, 1993, was a day that forever changed the lives of young Danny Kassab, his parents, family, friends, and now, countless others.
Just 7 years old at the time, Danny had just been dropped off by his father, Sam Kassab, in front of Holy Redeemer Church in Dryden.
Anxiously hurrying across the country road to get to his Bible school class, Danny never noticed a vehicle coming over the hill near the church. Tragically, the second-grader was struck, resulting in life-threatening injuries.
As fate would have it, three local nurses were nearby and administered first aid and CPR, miraculously reviving the youngster and saving his life.
While Danny's life had been spared, his parents, Faye and Sam Kassab, were soon advised of the severity of their son's condition. They were told Danny had suffered spinal cord injuries and would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
He spent nearly three months at a rehabilitation center in Denver, adjusting to his new reality before returning to his home in Dryden.
For Faye and Sam, providing proper care for Danny became their top priority. But it was difficult managing his around-the-clock care and continuing to operate the family's grocery business on Dryden Road.
Within a year of the accident, the couple realized that the care given their son by independent caregivers was not meeting their son's needs nor their expectations.
|Danny and his siblings, Cassidy, Ziad and Calvin Kassab, enjoy a happy moment at a family event.|
Determined to provide the best possible care for Danny, Faye and Sam decided to take the reins and do the job themselves. What would follow over the next 16 years and continues today, is a legacy befitting Danny's rare courage, spirit and passion for living.
Last Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009, Danny died of cardiac arrest at his Rochester-area home. He was 23 years old.
For everyone that knew him, his passing was inexplicably sad and unexpected.
Laurie Bauerle, an employee at Guardian Angel Home Care, a company launched by Faye and Sam Kassab in 1994, said Danny had been doing well.
"It was not expected," said Bauerle. "He was not sick, though he said he didn't feel well that day.
"Danny was an inspiration and blessing to all of us —and he will continue to be," said Bauerle. "Every time I saw him he was smiling. He never let anything prevent him from doing the things he wanted to do.
"He loved reading and I heard he was planning on writing his own novel," she continued. "It is because of him and his wonderful family that we all have jobs and the chance to provide quality home care services to all those in need."
Judy Bernard, a close friend of the Kassabs, credits the entire family with having created something positive from their shared tragedy.
"It's remarkable what this family has done," said Bernard, who serves as Guardian Angel's director. "Sam and Faye are the most giving, loving people I've ever met in my life.
"There is nothing they will not do for people," she said. "They always go above and beyond to help."
Bernard noted that Guardian Angel Home Care, named in honor of Marsha Bunker, Peg Wigton and Laura Calabro—the three nurses that saved Danny's life—has expanded in recent years to include four other businesses.
"There are now five companies under one roof," she said. "We've gone nationwide to provide compassionate private duty nursing, outpatient rehabilitation and ZCD Transportation, a company that provides transportation for the wheelchair bound."
Bernard pointed out that ZCD was named after Danny and his three siblings, Ziad, Calvin and Cassidy.
"The whole family is involved in the business," she said. "And it's all about compassion and caring. They started this business from their hearts, not for their pocketbooks."
The Web site for Guardian Angel Home Care is: www.gahc94.com. Danny's Web site is: www.dannykassab.com.
Funeral services were held on Tuesday, September 8.