The parents of a severely burned volunteer fireman graciously accepted a $14,000 check from Oregon firefighters Monday night as their son continues to improve at a Chicago rehabilitation center.
Penny and Mick Jones, the parents of Thomas Jones, 25, Oregon, stood surrounded by Oregon firefighters as assistant fire chief Randy Travis presented the couple with the check.
"This check is for $14,000 bringing the total donation from the Oregon Firemen's Association to $25,000," said Travis. "These are the proceeds from the Oct. 6 spaghetti supper and the Nov. 24 benefit at the VFW."
"Thank you so much, gentlemen," said Mick Jones, Thomas' father, as Travis handed him the check.
Jones suffered burns over 85 percent of his body in an Aug. 20 fire at his home. He was working on a demolition derby car in the garage behind his home at 406 S. Eighth St. when the explosion and fire occurred.
According to witnesses, Jones was engulfed in flames. Neighbors came to his aid, wrapping him in a blanket to extinguish the flames.
The explosion ignited the garage and house. The garage was destroyed and the house sustained major damage.
His fiancé, Chelsy Janssen, 22, Mt. Morris, was also burned on her hands, arms, and face as she attempted to help him. She was treated for burns on her arms and later released from the hospital.
Thomas was transferred from St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on Nov. 21 for specialized therapy.
Penny said Thomas is making good progress and hopes to be back home in Oregon for the Christmas holiday.
"He's beginning to get his humor back. When Chelsy showed him the first check he said 'what are we going to use that for, dancing girls?'" said Penny. "His 'out date' is Dec. 27th, but he said 'Mom, I'll be home for Christmas'."
"He walked 484 feet with a walker the other day," said Mick.
Penny said Thomas undergoes therapy for 4 hours each day, and is learning to walk and climb stairs.
He's hoping to be out of his wheel chair and using a walker exclusively by the time he comes home for Christmas, she said.
"He's doing very well and working really hard," Penny said.
Cards can be sent to Thomas at the following address:
Thomas Jones Room 608
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 East Superior, Chicago, Ill 60611.
"He loves mail," said Penny.
An account has also been set up for Thomas and Chelsy at Community State Bank of Oregon.
Donations may be dropped off at the bank on the corner of Washington (Ill. 64) and Fourth (Ill. 2) Streets, or mailed to Jones/Janssen Benefit Account, Community State Bank, PO Box 399, Oregon, IL 61061.