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Little Lights Chapter 8: Project CARAT

In the country, folks are fond of saying that you can “learn a lot by just hanging around and listening.”

And so that was true for Terri Ross.

After a tragic motorcycle accident that claimed Terri’s leg, she suddenly found herself with ample opportunity to listen to those around her.

“I spent a lot of time in rehab, and I spent a lot of time going to doctors’ appointments,” she recalls.

“I didn’t know people where I was, and so I listened a lot to the people around me.”

What she heard surprised Terri.

Blessed with what she calls “good insurance,” Terri was shocked to hear those around her saying that they were going without vital medical equipment because their insurance wouldn’t pay for it or they couldn’t afford it. As a patient herself, she knew that the right medical equipment could make recovery and rehabilitation much more comfortable and successful.

“They were talking about tub transfer benches, which I had because my insurance had paid for one. They were talking about walkers and wheelchairs.  Some of them had been in the same wheelchair for years and they’d broken down.”

“They didn’t have the resources, or their insurance couldn’t replace the ones they had.”

The conversations bothered Terri so much that she mentioned them to her lifelong friend Sonya Windt. Fond of shopping yard sales, Sonya knew that she often saw used medical equipment being sold in those.

But Terri knew that there was a huge barrier for patients like herself accessing that resource.

“I said to her, ‘I have therapy and doctors appointments and I’m too tired.’”

“At the time, I didn’t have a prosthetic leg,” Terri says. “I wasn’t able to walk.”

The friends made a pact— when Terri was able, they would start to address the problem she was seeing.

When they started, they started small, with just an advertisement in the free Good Neighbor newspaper.

“We asked for free, gently used medical equipment,” she says.

“Things came pouring in. People were happy to donate it. They would have a loved one pass away or recover from a surgery and they would give it to us.”

“We ended up with so much medical equipment. We couldn’t believe how much just showed up.”

“There was equipment everywhere.”

And then word spread, and people began calling and asking for equipment to aid in their recovery.

“We knew that there was a need for this.”

Terri and Sonya’s whole world changed when they were able to connect with representatives from Vocational Rehab, the Kentucky Assistive Technology Services Network (KATS) and Lourdes Hospital, now Mercy Health.

Mercy Health gave Terri and Sonya office space to use and warehouse space to help store all the equipment they had. Soon after, they began an official partnership with Project CARAT and the Kentucky Assistive Technology Services Network (KATS) to officially become Project CARAT Paducah.

“When this started coming together, we just couldn’t believe it,” she says.

“Lourdes/Mercy Health came through like a dream.”

“The community has just poured so many pieces of equipment into our laps.”

“Stuff has come from everywhere, and people have come from all over the state of Kentucky to donate and to pick up.”

Office Manager Marilee Richards sees this every day in the Project CARAT Paducah offices.

“I remember that we had one lady that had a young child that needed a specific piece of equipment for his needs,” she says.

“She had gotten on the KATS network and we had it.”

“She drove three hours to get here to pick up that piece of equipment. It was something that costs thousands of dollars and they just didn’t have the money to buy one, but her son needed it.”

Marilee, Terri and Sonya work to help everyone that they can with medical equipment needs. Some come to the office because they need to replace a piece that they rely on every day. Others visit after an accident or surgery to get equipment to aid in their rehabilitation or recovery. Some have insurance that simply cannot provide the equipment they need.  Some have no insurance at all. Some are waiting for their insurance to process, but they need help immediately.

Some need equipment for short-term recoveries, and others need pieces for longer time.

No matter the need, Project CARAT Paducah is there. They are there when equipment is needed and also when it is no longer needed.

“Just this week, we had a lady bring back a Geri Chair that she’d gotten for her husband from us in December on a temporary loan.”

“She said it was so helpful; they were so thankful to have that piece of equipment because they could put him in the chair and take him into the den with the family.”

“She was just so thankful. It makes you feel good when somebody tells you that what they got made such a difference in their lives.”

Warehouse Technician Doyle Owen sees every piece of equipment that comes into Project CARAT Paducah. He inspects every piece, takes it apart for scrubbing, wipes every piece down, and then reassembles it and gets it ready to be used again.

The retired auto mechanic says every piece and every person who it can help is a blessing for him.

“I get a blessing when I see people needing this stuff and taking it out and using it and then again when we hear back from them saying what a blessing it has been to them,” he says.

“This is what God wants me to do.”

“It’s the main reason we are all doing this – for His people.” 

Project CARAT Paducah Needs You!

If you’d like to learn more or connect with Project CARAT Paducah, visit their website at or connect with them on Facebook.

If you know someone who is in need of medical equipment, please call or visit the office at

911 Joe Clifton Drive
Paducah, KY 42001
(270) 538-6844

Project CARAT Paducah is happy to take donations of medical equipment any time during their regular business hours. Visit to learn more about their needs and hours.

An independent non-profit, Project CARAT Paducah receives donations and does fundraisers throughout the year to continue providing their valuable service to the community.

Mark your calendar to join them on June 5, 2020 for their Charity Golf Scramble.  Learn more on or on their Facebook page.


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