CHF Helps To Provide Greater Independence To Chardon Student

Chardon Healing Fund

The Chardon Healing Fund is proud to provide a handicapped accessible vehicle to one of the survivors of the Chardon High School tragedy, Nick Walczak. Nick was left paralyzed from the mid chest down following the events which took place on February 27.

Gaining Independence

Since his release from the hospital, the Chardon Healing Fund has been paying for the rental expenses of a wheelchair accessible van for Nick. While this has been helpful to the family, Nick has remained dependent on others to get him around and he has expressed a desire to gain more independence. Over the summer, Nick completed driver training classes, so that he could learn how to use a vehicle that is operated by hand controls. Following this training, Nick was required to retake his driver’s test, which he recently passed.

The Chardon Healing Fund originally had plans to purchase a wheel chair accessible van for Nick, but Nick respectfully requested that the CHF board consider a car instead of a van. The board agreed with this request, and Nick spent many days testing out his ability to get in and out of different vehicles, realizing that many presented challenges to him, including how far the door opened to how well he could transfer from his wheelchair to the driver’s seat. Nick finally decided on a 2012 Chrysler 300S, which was purchased below cost through the generosity of the Junction Auto Family.

“The purchase of this vehicle will change our lives in so many ways. Nick is so excited to have his own car that he can access on his own so he can drive to school, visit his friends, and go anywhere else other teenagers go. We are very grateful for the generosity of Junction Auto and especially to the Chardon Healing Fund for all that they have done to support our family over the last six months,” stated Holly Walczak, Nick’s mother.

According to Jenniffer Deckard, Board chair for the CHF, “This would not be possible without the support of so many caring people in our community and others who supported the CHF. This is a significant moment for all of us, and we are happy to be able to continue to use these resources to provide Nick with some independence and to help in furthering the healing process for this community.”

About the Chardon Healing Fund

A day after the tragic shooting at Chardon High School, school district superintendent Joe Bergant announced the Chardon Healing Fund had been established through the United Way Services of Geauga County (UWSGC). To date, the nonprofit fund has received over $926,000 in donations, with 100 percent of those funds reserved for the benefit of victims, their families, students, and long-term healing of the community. Of the amount distributed thus far ($343,029), approximately 86% or $293,909 has supported the immediate needs of the six families directly impacted. A volunteer advisory board made up of 11 community members including graduates, business leaders, and public officials manages the Chardon Healing Fund to ensure all funds are appropriately allocated. For additional information, please contact the United Way offices at 440-285-2261.


Kimm Leininger
Author: Kimm Leininger

Kimm Leininger has served as the Executive Director of United Way Services of Geauga County since 2003. Prior to this, she served as the Executive Director of WomenSafe for five years and as a hospital social worker for three years. Kimm has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University and a Master of Social Work degree from The Ohio State University. She is also an alumnus of Leadership Geauga County, 2002. Kimm currently serves on the boards of the Geauga County P-16 Initiative, Northeast Ohio Regional P-16 Council, Chardon Healing Fund and Chardon Rotary Club. Kimm lives in Geauga County with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her free time with her family, as well as coaching her children in various sporting activities.