Michael Kuykendall, 64, is a disabled Vietnam veteran living with his service dog, Kelo. Recently, caretaker Linda O'Hara escorted him to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, at St. Michael Catholic Church, to help him receive some much-needed food recently.
Kuykendall said it has been 10 years since a life-threatening incident altered his life. He was standing under a tree in South Memphis when lightning struck the ground nearby.
"There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The lightning bolt lit my shoes on fire and knocked me down," he said.
He left the hospital four months later, but was unable to return to his job as a manager at the University of Tennessee Health Center due to permanent spinal injury. The Air Force veteran has been disabled since, relying on a cane or wheelchair and help from his sister who lives with him. Unfortunately, she recently suffered a stroke, so O’Hara wanted to make sure he had access to food. "I’ve tried to get to the store on the bus with my dog, but it doesn’t work," he said.
At the Food Pantry volunteers helped fill a box with cereal, frozen meat, fresh produce, snacks and other goods. He said this first visit to St. Michael's would not be his last, and that prospect eased his worries.
"I'm not picky; I'm really grateful for the help," says Kuykendall.