Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on November 20, 2005 · Page 113
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page 113

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Page 113
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DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE A day in the life of Victor SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2005 13H Ex-firefighter uses personal experience to help disabled V MCiy v ft !r Nicholson ERNST LAMOTHE JR. STAFF WRITER If history books are filled by stories of good people who overcame obstacles to become great, then a page should be kept open for T. Michael Nicholson. The Victor resident had plenty of reasons to mope or become bitter when a fraction-of-a-second event 35 years ago changed every remaining day of his life. But he didn't. He used his experience to champion a cause that has helped others in his situation receive benefits for themselves and their families. Nicholson joined the Bush-nell's Basin Volunteer Fire Department in the town of Perin-ton as a junior in high school in 1972. He felt the need to help others in the community, not necessarily envisioning a lifetime career fighting fires. However, on a fall evening that year while he was with his father, he was stuck by a car while directing traffic to the scene of a fire. He was taken from the scene with two broken legs, two collapsed lungs, a stroke and a broken back. "It was a pain that was hard for me to even conceive in my head," says Nicholson, 50. He endured months lying in a hospital bed, trying to regain complete feeling in his limbs and missing out on his final two years of high school. He went through years of physical and speech therapy to recover from numerous injuries that had left him totally and permanently disabled. Nicholson had job after job being fired 27 times in 17 years because of his condition, but he never knew what his condition was. Short-term memory loss became a problem. Focusing on multiple tasks became impossible. He found out why after seeing a Pittsford neurologist. After weeks of tests, Nicholson was diagnosed with traumatic brain damage 20 years after his accident. While many people would have seen this as another life blow, Nicholson was relieved. "I felt like I finally woke up," he says. "I thought, 'That explains everything.' " After he "woke up," he found his passion. He lobbied for his rights and those of others. In August 1996, a Senate bill brought Nicholson's workers compensation benefit up from the 1972 rate of $80 per week to $400. A second bill Nicholson advocated for, which was made into law in 1998, provided the new rate for every other living volunteer permanently and totally disabled. But he wasn't done. On Nov. 29, 1990, Congress amended the Public Safety Officers' Benefit Act, which took care of those who became permanently and totally disabled because of a catastrophic injury. However, the act covered only people who were injured on or after Nov. 29, 1990. That left out Nicholson and hundreds of other injured people. He also discovered that 34 other New York emergency workers were permanently and totally disabled. Nicholson took it upon himself to be the face, and many times the voice, of H.R. 2970, which would allow other totally permanently disabled firefighters injured before 1990 to receive benefits. Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-Ham-mondsport, Steuben County, presented the bill to the 106th Congress in June. Another disabled firefighter from Webster also has gotten Rep. James Walsh, R-Onondaga, to commit to being a co-sponsor of the bill. "I've known Mike for about 12 years. I think it's amazing what he's been able to accomplish for the other 32 disabled firefighters in the state," said the former Webster firefighter, Tom Smurthwaite. For Nicholson, tenacity comes with the territory. "When I hook up to something, I just can't let it go," he says. "It feels good that I've been able to help people who couldn't help themselves." a ElAM0THEvd n CARLOS ORTIZ staff photographer lz:io p.m.: Bruce Phillips takes a look under the hood of a Volvo 960 at CDI Inc. on Victor-Mendon Road. Phillips has been a mechanic for 25 years, the last 12 at CDI, an establishment that got its start in Rochester and specializes in import cars. Auto shop got the timing just right JIM MEMM0TT SENIOR EDITOR In 1991, Scott Parks and Mike Lombardo moved their successful foreign auto repair and sales shop from downtown Rochester to Victor. "A lot of customers thought I was crazy," says Parks, 45. "To those people, Victor was country." Country then, but not country now. CDI Inc., at 7494 Victor-Mendon Road, landed in the right spot at parKS The old cus tomers stayed with the shop, and some of the new residents who poured into Victor became customers. "We love where we are," says Lombardo, 46. "The customers know we're here. Every year, we have to turn down a lot of work." Their company name is a holdover from the first location at 70 Grove Place in Rochester, CDI standing for Cultural District Imports, a reference to the area near the Eastman Theatre. They opened the business in 1980, when both men were barely into their 20s. But cars were in their blood, as they had been fascinated by motorbikes and engines since they were kids growing up together in Pittsford. "We always had something that ran on gas," Lombardo says. The Rochester location was perfect for people who wanted to drop their cars off in the morning and then went to work downtown. But the facility was small, and there was little space outside the shop for customers' cars or for the used foreign cars the business specialized in. So the co-owners looked for new space. One day, they happened upon a vacant lot on Victor-Mendon Road. There was room to build, and the price was right, as Parks and Lombardo were ahead of the real estate boom in Victor. "Victor was just starting to archer sofa available in youi choice ol two leathers meade sofa I i available in yiitir choke of two leathers $1899 $2299 -1 i 1 y r--ilv Leather Expressions. a collection of 100 leather sofas, loveseats, chairs, ottomans and recliners barrister sofa available in your choice of two leathers $1999 bnefy sofa ailable in your choice of three leathers $1699 I , f" "'"1 r v - i- 1 ZLi Jiuj-l.l,lil.iiliiiiiiii..iiil.,- i 1- 111,, ii A wmn mum 6 Months Wm F '- Custom Drapery and winaow lovennqs... r for that finishing touch- WE MAKE Ckl HOUSE CALLS1 ff I grow," Parks says. "Real estate was still reasonable." They bought the land and built a main shop, later adding another building for storing cars. The two men divide the labor, with Parks managing the repair shop, and Lombardo managing the car sales. Lombardo buys cars from auctions and other places. He uses the Internet to find new customers. This month, it looks as if he will sell a Porsche Boxster to a customer in Taiwan. To learn more For more about CDI Inc., go to "With the cars we're selling, you can't rely just on Rochester," he says. "You've got to mix it up." Down the line, CDI will probably expand again, Parks and Lombardo say, with an addition on the main building. They plan on staying in Victor, however, at a "crazy" location that proved to be sane. J mmt n "PP. . jfmv"m' vf -pfW " i .imp . w urn vimS vm 1 -piw? . V wr'- 11 1 i 11 Jt NU4iK" Wm Oi - Zj! O c 1 I Pfp "IVnjamin Moore ' calls Regal ' Matte Finish t'l y to apply ""rV and caw to CCan. I ft T 1 1 I ft 1 I t" call it cosy tt ftit. n.r-m if a , . j (ft tfJi j (if bei The hett ot mthiM MdttC 'inj, avdthble flitlv dt vour hi. a I Renimm M.i.vf1 retailer. Tht bfiiuttful flat fmiih wtpe.s titan with just a Utile soap and WiltCf, il'ii the (oh't )wk great even aftet repeated washing It came in every color ) an can dream of, in tan itrate an lavi I want fot their roatm. Rtaaf Hattt hnhh h.h the quality and durability that Benjamin Moore1 paint uhjm tfcttt In' ! delivers It doesn't Jet eautr than that ik. i Benjamin Moore Paints Onlv at your liHdl Hrnj.iiiiln Mniiir stun1 HADLOCICS HOUSE OF PAINT Since 1921 The Best Paint... The liest People... The liest Price. 5 Convenient Locations 7273 Victor-Pittstord Rd. 2008 Empire Blvd. 2372 Lyell Ave. 924-8310 671-2520 429-6232 3400 Monroe Ave. 21 3 W. Union St. Newark 586-2920 315-331-8520 1

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