Invermere firefighter returns home

Norm Gagatek has finally returned home to his family after his illness rehabilitation.

MLA Norm Macdonald (right) dropped by to wish Norm Gagatek a happy homecoming.

MLA Norm Macdonald (right) dropped by to wish Norm Gagatek a happy homecoming.

After a long time away local resident Norm Gagatek has finally returned home and his family could not be happier.

“Having Norm home is literally what I visualized immediately after he had the stroke. I always knew he would make it home. It is hard being the primary caregiver and looking after two kids, yes, but I would have it no other way,” said Gagatek’s fianceé Kim Harris. “The boys are so happy daddy is home and to be home with Nonno too. They both help Norm out and the stimulation they give is encouraging Norm to be more social, being a parent. Their presence forces him to be involved.”

Gagatek suffered a brain stem stroke and has been working hard ever since to become well enough to return to his home.

Shortly after returning to his home Gagatek had a visit from Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

“I am so happy he is home with his family, and I wanted to celebrate the fact he is home.  When I first met Norm there was a long and difficult road ahead; to be able see him with his boys and Kim was really wonderful. I think Norm’s prognosis was bleak.  There were many people that said what has happened for Norm would not happen. The strength that Kim and Norm have shown is really amazing.  It’s inspirational for those that have been witness to it,” Macdonald said.

Since Gagatek’s illness Harris had been working so that people in similar situations in B.C. can receive better care for brain injures. Even though Gagatek is home, Harris still hopes more will be done in the future.

“As for our goal of getting a brain injury rehab facility built in B.C., it is not gone, nor the passion faded. At this point we are regrouping and getting the family settled, but by the fall we hope to have enough people organized to start a movement, a provincial awareness on the effects of brain injury and the importance, no, the necessity of having a rehab facility in B.C. As for us as a family, we will be doing just that, being a family, not trying to make up for the last two years and eight months, but getting to know each other again and just living and loving life together,” she said.

In regards to a brain injury facility in B.C. Macdonald said, “I think there is still a lot of work that will need to be done.  I know that Kim and Norm are committed to pushing the province to get a facility such as they have in Alberta.  I will be supporting them in that effort.”

Macdonald also spoke of the support shown the family from the communities and people of the area.

“It makes me very proud and it is also humbling.  The community has been absolutely incredible with support not only from the volunteer firefighters and friends, but from the whole community,” he said.

As for the future Harris is just happy to be taking the next step.

“Love conquers all and I never truly believed that until July 5, 2008, the day our battle began. Now this battle is over, we can begin a new journey, the one we planned together,” said Harris.