Marine Lance Corporal Nicholas J. Eufrazio of Plymouth will celebrate Christmas today, with his family by his side, at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, where he is being treated for traumatic brain injury as the result of a grenade attack on Nov. 21, 2010, in Afghanistan.
Employees at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth where his father, Mark Eufrazio, has worked as a plumber for the past 13 years, raised thousands of dollars in recent weeks to help the family make the trip.
“Within a couple of weeks, they raised something like $9,000,’’ Mark Eufrazio said. “We didn’t expect anything like that; people just joined together to help us get to our son during Christmas. It’s really something to see so many people who care.’’
He said Jordan Hospital workers are always raising money for causes for colleagues and those outside the hospital, because “it’s true to their heart. They just want to help people.’’
A group of volunteers started organizing events to raise money to help the Eufrazio family. Physicians Ronald Bardawill and Paul Vigna of Plymouth Pathology Associates donated an iPad2 to be raffled off, and Plymouth firefighter Robert MacKinnon kicked in a surf casting rod and reel. Employees made gift baskets, area businesses donated items for raffles, and Plymouth South High School, which Nicholas Eufrazio attended and where he played football, sold raffle tickets.
“They asked me if I’d mind them doing it,’’ Mark Eufrazio said. “So I talked it over with my wife. We’re pretty private people, but we said, ‘You know what? Nick fought for our freedom, so why not?’ So they raised the money, and this gives us time to stay down there with Nick and pay the bills back home.’’
Nicholas Eufrazio has been in the Marines since he graduated from Plymouth South in 2009, participating in the Young Marines program before he enlisted, and ending up number one in his battalion during boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., his father said. He had wanted to be a Marine since Sept. 11, 2001, when father and son watched television coverage of the World Trade Center towers falling in the terrorist attacks in New York City.
The young Marine’s condition has slowly improved, his father said.
“With traumatic brain injury, you have good and bad days,’’ he said, “and the last couple weeks, he’s been very good.’’
The family has visited Nick every step of the way, in the various hospitals where he has been treated, feeling guilty, Mark Eufrazio said, when it was time to leave him and return home. Now, with the donations of Jordan Hospital workers and others, including local VFW and American Legion posts, they can take more time. He said he and his wife will try to stay with their son, in shifts, for perhaps three months, as finances allow.
Around Thanksgiving last year, the Eufrazios were notified “in that phone call you never want to get,’’ Mark Eufrazio said, that their son had been critically injured in battle.
“Yes, it will be a good Christmas,’’ Mark Eufrazio said. “Way better than last year.’’
An account has been set up at Mayflower Bank for the Eufrazio family. Checks made payable to the Nicholas J. Eufrazio Fund can be dropped off at any Mayflower branch, or mailed to the Plymouth locations of the bank, at 57 Obery St. or 94 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360.
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