Customer Spotlight: Rick I.

Man wearing sunglasses holding a small quail

The best part of Because Market is our customers. Coming from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, they all share the desire to live life on their terms, and we’re glad to be able to support them on their journeys. Through our Customer Spotlight series, we hope to showcase some of their amazing stories. 

Rick I. is a 64-year-old retired law enforcement officer who loves to cook and has spent the past couple of years learning how to live with a disability that has left him in a wheelchair.


Rick’s Story

Rick lives in Aiken, South Carolina—but he hasn’t always lived there. He was born in Pennsylvania, but raised in Edison, New Jersey. After marrying his ex-wife, who he met in New Jersey, they moved to Fort Myers, Florida, where they resided for 25 years. Though they ultimately got divorced, Rick says they still have a positive relationship and communicate regularly.


A Career in Law Enforcement

Although Rick is now retired, he spent his career in law enforcement as a code of ethics prosecutor. He most often dealt with property maintenance code violations. As part of his job, he notified homeowners of property violations, and if they did not resolve the issues on their own, he was responsible for taking them to court and serving as the prosecutor for the city. He worked this job for 25 years.


Rick’s Hobbies

But work was far from his whole life; he has a long list of hobbies and interests. Top of the list? Cooking. Rick developed a love for cooking at a young age, where he’d spend time in the kitchen learning from his mother and grandmothers. With fall rolling around, Rick says, “I have fond memories of my mom preparing a roast and putting it in the oven, and dad and I watching football games.”

Over the years, his recipe repertoire only expanded. His ex-wife came from an Italian family, and Rick says he learned a lot about authentic Italian cuisine from his mother-in-law. During his marriage, Rick says he enjoyed cooking for his wife on a daily basis and looked forward to cooking around the holidays. One of his favorite dishes to cook is Coquilles Saint-Jacques, which is scallops in a creamy sauce, topped with breadcrumbs.

Although Rick lives on his own, he still cooks for two. Every night, he makes dinner not only for himself but also for his neighbor. “My neighbor next door, wonderful neighbor, he’s single, he’s still working, but he’s my age. It’s easier to cook for two when I’m cooking. So, I cook for two and he’ll come over after work and pick up the container I’ve packaged up for him,” Rick says.

But his interests don’t stop in the kitchen. Rick owns a quail farm, where his team sells quail and eggs to local restaurants. (You can see one of his quails with him in his picture, above!) He also used to have a pilot’s license and loved to fly for fun. He was a private pilot and used to fly a single-engine Cessna before advancing to a two-engine Beechcraft. 

“We used to have some good times,” Rick recalls. “We’d get a bunch of the neighbors together [in Fort Myers]. One night we decided—we were going to go to dinner and they said they wanted clam chowder. So, we got the whole gang together, we got on a plane, and I flew them all to Boston!” The group of friends enjoyed some clam chowder in Boston, and Rick says, “After dinner, we turned around and flew home.” Aside from spontaneous adventures, Rick says when living in Florida he would regularly fly to the Bahamas, and he also enjoyed visiting family in Texas. When reflecting on his time in the air, he says “the peace and the freedom” are what he loved the most.


Learning a New Normal

While Rick was an active guy for most of his life, a couple of years ago things dramatically changed. In 2020, he fell in his garage and broke his hip. The fall was a result of a heart issue, which led to him undergoing open heart surgery. During his surgery, his doctors discovered signs of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). According to the Mayo Clinic, this is “a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling in your hands and feet are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body.”

After his surgery and diagnosis, Rick spent six months at a rehabilitation hospital. He describes this as a difficult period in his life. “Being far away from family, I didn’t have that advantage to have someone come and encourage me,” he says. “But I had a wonderful staff at the rehab center.” Their kindness, along with prayer and the desire to get back up and carry on with his life helped motivate him during that time.

Since then, Rick has been wheelchair-bound. He’s had to make adjustments to his home, particularly in the kitchen where he can no longer reach anything in his upper cupboards. He also has a home health aide who helps with errands like grocery shopping. 


Continuing to Stay Connected

But Rick’s new normal hasn’t stopped him from living his life. He looks forward to getting up every morning—a reminder of what his body is still capable of. While his disability limits the activities he’s able to take on and keeps him at home, he still really enjoys socializing with his neighbors. 

“Every night, my neighbor walks his dog. And when they do, they always stop by my house,” Rick says. “When the dog comes over, I give the dog a treat and get to pet the dog.” (In anticipation of those visits, Rick has his health aide keep his home well-stocked with dog treats.) And another neighbor will sometimes come over after dinner and will push Rick in his wheelchair, going around the loop of his neighborhood to get some fresh air. 


Rick’s Experience with Because Market

Rick discovered Because Market when he was in rehab after his heart surgery, and he says it’s been a lifesaver since. He adds that Because products have “given me the freedom to [get] out of my home when I’m strong enough and have someone to push me in the wheelchair. You’ve given me the freedom to get out and be around people again instead of just sitting in my house and being cooped up by myself.”

And he loves that his Because products get delivered right to his home, and that he’s notified when his order is being delivered. “I’ll be notified when it’ll be delivered and I’ll just have my garage door open, they’ll put it right inside my garage for me, and I push it in with my wheelchair!” he says. “I don’t have to worry about ever running out.”


What’s Next?

While Rick has had to give up his hobby of flying and can no longer personally manage his quail farm, he has been able to continue pursuing his passion for cooking, for which he’s very grateful. With his GBS, Rick acknowledges that, “It’s eventually going to get me; I know that and it doesn’t bother me. It’s eventually going to take over my body and I’m not going to be able to do anything anymore. But, for the time being, I’m still able to get around a little bit in a wheelchair, so I’m taking advantage of it.”

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