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RACINE — Bill Martin, a local Racine County resident, was severely injured in an unpredictable accident in 2018 when a tree fell on his family’s SUV. The accident, which took the life of his wife, Michelle, nearly took his life as well, and altered his physical abilities forever.

In an attempt to recover from the injuries caused by the accident, Bill Martin works extremely hard in neurorehabilitation, with one specific goal in mind: to get back to teaching. While dependent on a wheelchair, at this time, Martin is reliant on a private company for the use of their accessible van for transportation.

Bill Martin
Michelle and Bill Martin smile for a photo. Michelle’s life was lost during the tragic accident that left Bill severely injured and in need of over 14 hours of surgery. Now he’s defying the odds and learning to walk again. – Photo courtesy of Bill Martin

An in-depth interview with Bill Martin was previously released on the Racine County Eye. Read more about his story on our website.

Martin has the drive and determination to get back to the profession he loves, but he needs a set of wheels to do so. In light of needing a vehicle, Martin is in need of funds to purchase a van that is accommodating to his disability.

The Racine community has heard Bill’s story and they’re rallying together to give Bill the freedom of his own accessible vehicle.

First, Martin created a Go-Fund-Me page, reaching out to people online for donations. He’s currently raised almost $17,000.

Past Fundraisers for Bill

In February, two fundraisers were held at fast-food restaurants in the area to help assist Bill’s cause. Nicole Ramczyk and Horlick High School staff helped to organize these giveback events.

Likewise, at Fischer USA, Inc., a local company in Racine, for the company’s first-quarter fundraiser, they hosted a 50/50 raffle and a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon to benefit Martin.

The idea was pitched by Martin’s former student at Horlick, Michael Guzman, an employee at Fischer USA, Inc.

“Mr. Martin stood out to many students as a fun, caring, and genuine teacher who always encouraged his students to be their best selves and to always persevere when things become difficult,” said Guzman when encouraging his coworkers to donate.

The accident aftermath

fundraising for Bill Martin Wheels to a Teacher
Credit: Caledonia Police Department
fundraising for Bill Martin Wheels to a Teacher
Credit: Caledonia Police Department

In total, $2,150 was raised, which included the company’s matching program.

“Fischer USA, Inc. has some great employees that knew how important Mr. Martin was to me and the rest of his students, and they all were excited to step in and help our fundraising efforts,” said Guzman.”Myself, as well as many others, feel like it would be a disservice to our community if Mr. Martin was not in the classroom teaching. Mr. Martin’s passion for teaching is so real, and his motivation to get back into the classroom to continue educating is beyond inspiring.”

Upcoming fundraiser

But that’s not all, a benefit is happening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 26, at 5th Street Yacht Club, which will include a cribbage tournament, raffles, silent auction, food (with a full bar), bake sale, and more.

There will be pork sliders, macaroni and cheese, and other foods to snack on for $10.

fundraising for Bill Martin Wheels to a Teacher
Bill takes a stroll outside. – Photo courtesy of Bill Martin

The organizers did not personally know Bill prior to organizing the event but were touched by his story.

“When we heard the story about Bill, that’s when we decided that we were going to do this. Dave Brown, from Carpetland, and I try to do an event every year. With COVID, we haven’t really done anything for the last two years. We picked this and decided to rock and roll with it,” said Jeff Mckeown, owner of Personnel Resources and event organizer.

Strangers are stepping up all in the name of helping their neighbor in need.

“It’s pretty amazing. It’s unbelievable,” said Martin about the community’s efforts to help.

The fundraiser which includes a cribbage tournament, sponsorships, prize money, and various opportunities to give to Bill, will assist him in obtaining a van.

The fundraiser has reached capacity for participants playing in the cribbage tournament. However, there is a waitlist. Any team of two interested in playing cribbage should contact or contact 262-332-0011 to be put on the waitlist. Nine teams are needed to form another bracket.

Impacting Bill

fundraising for Bill Martin Wheels to a Teacher
Bill Martin, surrounded by his team of therapists and caregivers for his rehabilitation. – photo courtesy of Bill Martin

“He’s just so positive,” said Mckeown.

Mckeown compares the efforts to help Bill to The Tale of the Starfish.

“What I think is cool about the way that this is working. We’re not going to help everybody. We’re going to help one person and really impact their life. Their (Bill’s) life can then go impact somebody else,” Mckeown said.

“That’s what excites me about doing this fundraiser. When you write a check to the food bank, that’s great, it helps people, and it’s a good thing. We really don’t see the impact of that. In this case, we will. Bill, in fact, is going to be able to live a fuller life. His life is gonna be directly impacted.”

A goal of $10,000 was set. According to Mckeown, it’s looking like well over $15,000 will be donated.

Bill’s progress

YouTube video
YouTube video
YouTube video

All videos courtesy of Bill Martin.

Bill will be present at this event, thanks to the arrangement of accessible transportation from an outside provider.

Can’t make it? Donations can be made online.

Read Bill’s full story here.

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