Her clinic coworkers have never heard Rye, a paraplegic who relies on a wheelchair for mobility, complain or see her display anything but a "beautifully positive attitude," says S. Todd Stephens, MD, who serves on the faculty of the Ascension Via Christi Family Medicine Residency program that is housed in the same building.
"We all were so touched simply watching her get in and out of her 1989 white Beretta, which although it served her well, appeared to us medical personnel as 'pre-terminal,'' says Dr. Stephens. So he created a "Kim's New Car Fund" and sent the clinic's staff, residents and faculty a single letter inviting them to participate during the Christmas season.
Without twisting a single arm, more than 40 members of the team jumped at the chance, raising enough money in just four weeks to cover a substantial amount of the cost of a good used car for Rye.
The Via Christi Foundation, through its Associate Assistance Program, provided the funds needed to equip the car with a wheelchair entrance ramp and necessary hand controls.
On April 14, Rye drove her new 2016 Kia Soul to work for the first time.
"We all think the car is adorable and she absolutely loves it," says Stephens. "Kim heroically gets herself to work each day, experiencing difficulties and inconveniences at nearly every turn of which we are mostly unaware. We're so thankful to bring joy and blessing to one of our own, who has done so for all of us and thousands of our patients over the years."
Rye, who started out as a volunteer in 1992 and began working for Ascension Via Christi in 1994, has worked at the residency clinic since 2014.
"My mechanic had told me for several years I was going to need a new car, but I kept putting it off because of the research involved in finding the right car and getting it adapted to her needs.
But when Dr. Stephens told her about the team's desire to help her replace her vehicle, she was amazed that he and others had even noticed her need and knew it was time to begin the process.
Says Kim: "I was just so grateful and felt so wonderful knowing that people really care."