Southlake Times > News
Southlake Lions Club raises money for face transplant recipient
Dallas Wiens continues to heal after an electrical accident in 2008 left him with severe burns on his face.
The burns were so severe that Wiens, a Fort Worth resident, had to have multiple surgeries and ultimately a facial transplant in March 2011. It was the first full facial transplant in the United States.
The transplant was successful, though doctors were unable to replace his eyes.
Wiens’ new fiancée, Garland resident Jamie Nash, has been one companion to walk by his side during his recovery.
Now, thanks to the Southlake Lions Club, he has another companion, too. A trained leader dog named Charley.
The Lions Club hosted a motorcycle rally with about 100 riders on Oct. 11 to raise money for a service dog to help Wiens become more independent.
At Tuesday’s Southlake City Council meeting, the Lions Club presented a check for $15,600 to Leader Dogs for the Blind Organization, which is supported by Lions Clubs across the country and provides leader dogs to qualified recipients at no cost.
Wiens and Nash were on hand to thank the club for their efforts.
“It really warms my heart, and it always will,” Wiens said of the fundraising efforts. “It was unnecessary, but they decided that that’s what they wanted to do. They also helped me with the process of getting Charley. All of this would have been confusing without the help of the Lions Club. They helped me apply, and their help has been invaluable.”
The money raised went toward the dog, which along with an extensive one-month training session in Detroit, costs about $40,000.
Though the Southlake Lions Club has participated in charitable events during its 25 years, this was the first motorcycle ride it hosted.
“We wanted a clear cause,” said Erik Wulfers, president of the Southlake Lions Club. “The Lions Club has always been involved with things dealing with the visually impaired. We had heard about his hardships, so we wanted to help.”
Charley, 2, now helps Wiens get around easier. Charley anticipates Wiens’ body movement, which allows him to lead the way.
“Everywhere we go, Charley is there and goes to work,” Nash said.
The connection between Wiens and Charley is still a work in progress, however.
“It’s day to day,” Wiens said of Charley’s cooperation. “Some days he doesn’t want to do what he’s told, but other days he does everything he’s told. He still gets distracted, but he’s getting over it.”
The rapport will take some time, but Wiens admits it’s still better than using a cane.
The recovery has taken time as well, though it has been quicker than Wiens has expected.
“It’s been a journey,” Wiens said. “The sensation and the mobility has come faster than doctors said it would. I’m able to feel the sun on my face now, and to me, that’s amazing.”
Wiens said the experience has changed his outlook on life.
“I’m happier now than I ever have been,” Wiens said. “Now, I stop to enjoy life and the people around me. I’m feeling the joy, peace and serenity of life more than I have before. I don’t have the chaos that I had been used to. I’m so grateful for this every day.”
He’s also grateful for Nash, whom he met at a support group for burn victims. Nash suffered burns over 70 percent of her body when she was involved in a car crash in June 2010. She had 30 surgeries and was in an induced coma for 10 weeks.
Nash said she was texting while driving, which led to the crash.
Nash now runs the Jamie Nash TXT L8R Foundation, a nonprofit organization that urges people to stop driving while distracted. She speaks to groups on the issue.
Wiens also shares his story and speaks on hope and survival. His nonprofit organization is called Dallas About Face.
They often share their story on how they were brought together.
“I pursued him for two months,” Nash said.
Then they went on two dates.
“That’s all she wrote,” said Wiens, who proposed soon after. The wedding date is set for March 30, 2013.
But in the times it’s just Wiens and Charley, Nash feels confident Wiens will be OK.
“It’s amazing the confidence he has given Dallas,” Nash said. “He can conquer anything, and he knows he’s well-led.”
Links to Wiens’ and Nash’s organizations:
Copyright © 2013 - Star Local News