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Easing A Trooper's Pain
Wallingford-Based Company Donates Therapeutic Whirlpool Spa

October 29, 2004
By TRACY GORDON FOX, Courant Staff Writer

SOMERS -- Limping slightly, Trooper James Reidy slowly made his way out to his back deck into the chilly autumn air. He peeled off his T-shirt and stepped into the 102-degree bubbling water waiting for him in his new therapeutic spa.

Six years after three bullets from a high-powered rifle ripped through Reidy's stomach and grazed his spine, his leg and foot still stiffen from painful leg cramps caused by muscle damage.

"My foot is in a constant cramp," Reidy said, groaning as the jets of hot water hit his body. "This loosens up my muscles a lot, and makes me feel a lot better."

A few months ago, the state police union contacted Wallingford-based ThermoSpas and told company President Andrew Tournas about Reidy's condition.

"Let's face it," union President David LeBlanc said. "He was involved in something most of us will never be involved in. [ThermoSpas] stepped up to the plate and took care of a need for him."

The company donates spas to children who suffer from arthritic and muscular diseases that respond to whirlpool treatments. But it made an exception and decided to donate one of its $10,000 spas to an adult when they heard about Reidy's story.

On Sept. 3, 1998, Reidy had just begun his day shift when he responded to a report of gunshots in Willington. When he arrived, he was not aware that Troopers Michael Hoague and Mark Pelletier had already been shot while they were in the process of investigating a vandalism complaint.

Edward Premo Jr. fired at Reidy's cruiser, and Reidy fired back, wounding Premo. One of the bullets that hit Reidy ricocheted off his spine, causing nerve damage that has left him with intense pain throughout his body, particularly his leg and foot.

But since he started the water therapy about three weeks ago, Reidy said he has noticed an improvement. His wife, Gina, and 17-year-old daughter, Ashley, said they also have noticed a change.

"Ever since I've been going in here a lot, the cramps have loosened," he said. "It's like having five massage therapists working on you at the same time. Six years ago I was shot, and this is the best therapy I've had yet."

Eventually, he said he would like to get off the morphine and other pain medication and go back to being a state trooper. "Yeah, I'd be a cop again," he said. "I miss it."

Jim Greer, vice president of human resources for ThermoSpas, visited Reidy Thursday to give him a few extra wooden panels for the spa. The panels were signed by 200 workers from the Wallingford factory.

"Hope this helps some of those pains to go away," wrote Paula Taylor, an employee at the company who is the mother of a state trooper.

"It was a very easy decision for Andy to make," Greer said of the donation by the company's president. "He felt Jim had sacrificed a lot."
 
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