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Man with MS seeks mobility

John HartAt his Grass Valley area home on Wednesday, Ron Cole holds a photo of himself water-skiing years ago.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Ron Cole can’t water-ski or surf along the famed Santa Cruz coastline anymore.

His wife, Dianne, has only the memories left of their nights spent ballroom dancing or cavorting to the sounds of rhythm and blues.

But by his own admission, Ron Cole still has a lot of living to do. He just needs a little assistance.



Cole, who has a rapidly-progressing form of multiple sclerosis, needs wheels, and not the kind that are attached to his wheelchair.

A van with a lift “would make a world of difference for me,” said Cole, 39, who before his diagnosis in 1997 built stage sets for such acts as U2, the Rolling Stones, the Who and other rock stars.




It’s a life he enjoyed, he said, but doesn’t miss. He’d much rather be outdoors visiting the South Yuba River and walking along trails near Bridgeport with his wife – if only he could.

“He’s so peaceful,” Dianne Cole said. “He says this is his life now, and he wouldn’t change a thing.”

A group of friends in his MS support group are establishing a fund at El Dorado Savings Bank’s downtown Grass Valley branch to help the Coles buy a van with a motorized lift, so the couple can more easily enjoy life.

Fellow MS survivor Helen Turner and a few of her friends are working to raise money for a down payment on Ron Cole’s dream vehicle of the moment – a 1997 Dodge Caravan owned by Alta Sierra resident Barbara Abbey, whose husband used it before he died. The van, with a motorized lift and a mechanism that allows the car to be lowered 10 inches for easier loading, is on the market for $17,000.

The couple needs about $2,000 for a down payment and has arranged to finance the rest.

Turner, who was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago, said those that help Ron Cole will be reaching out to a selfless, inspiring man who needs help fast.

“He’s very peaceful and grateful for his wife and all the blessings he has. “He’s never said, ‘Why me, why is this happening to me?'”

“We just want him to be comfortable and for the quality of his life to improve,” said Turner, who set up the fund with the help of friends Phyllis Wadsworth and Susan Storm.

“I bless MS for the wisdom it has given me,” said Ron Cole, an avid roller skater and cyclist when he was able. “I appreciate life more.”

Cole married Dianne in Reno just over a year ago, having met her while visiting his physical therapist. He later became Dianne’s massage specialist.

“And then I got married and stopped charging her,” he quipped.

These days, pictures serve as memories of the past. There’s one of Ron water-skiing in 1995 on Lake McClure in Merced County, the water cascading behind him.

“It makes me feel proud, my friend, proud,” he said, smiling as he held the picture. “It seems like such a short time ago.”

But Cole realizes there’s more still left to do, if only he had a van.

“It would be so big,” he said of buying the van. “I would get to enjoy the life I have.”

A trust fund has been set up for Ron Cole at El Dorado Savings Bank, 124 W. Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945. The account number is 373-00949. Gifts may be mailed or dropped off at the bank.


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