(WJBK) - Ed Gregory spent 13 years saving lives as a member of the Dryden Fire Department, but then an injury ended his career as a first responder. He didn't want to stop helping other, though, and knew he had to find a way to continue making lives better. Now, his main focus is making sure those with special needs feel like they're part of the community.
Ed was inspired by his older brother, David, who struggled with intellectual disabilities. Ed witnessed firsthand how cruel people could be, and vowed to do his part to erase the stigma.
"It made him feel bad, terrible, like he couldn't go forward with life because they kept pushing him back," Ed says about David. "I know from my heart that these people need hope and somebody that knows that they care."
Now, Ed is president of Team Gregory Charities, a nonprofit that works to enhance the lives of those with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities -- and to provide assistance to emergency personnel whose lives have been impacted by illness, injury or tragedy. FOX 2 caught up with Ed as he was treating a group of individuals with special needs to a fishing trip on Lake St. Clair.
"They were really apprehensive at first because it was their first time, but once we got out there? It was like, man, they were so excited!" says Melanie Winn from S.T.E.P., which is Services to Enhance Potential.
These fishing trips are just one of the activities Ed organizes for local adults and children living with disabilities to help bring some normalcy to their lives. He also hosts barbecues, provides Thanksgiving dinners, and sends them to summer camp at St. Francis on the Lake.
"He just brings joy," Winn says. "We had people who just wanted to learn how to use the computer, but didn't have access to it, so he supplied computers."
"When I first heard what Team Gregory does, it just brought a smile to my face, in terms of somebody who takes time out of their day to help folks in the volume that he does every single day. For every event, he's never saying no and is always looking for a new way to help us out," says Brent Mikulski of S.T.E.P.
"It means a lot me; it means a lot to my family, and being a first responder I was on the front lines helping people and that's always been my life, helping people," Ed says.
To find out more about Team Gregory Charities, visit www.teamgregorycharities.com.