Restaurant owner raises $100,000 to buy Pasadena cop a new leg

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LA PORTE, TX– When you’re a cop, what do when an 18-wheeler runs you over, breaks way too many bones and you lose your leg? If you’re like Pasadena Officer Mike Huffman, you recover and get back to work.

Back in April, he and fellow officer Larry Candelari were coming home from a hunting trip when they spotted a U-Haul crashed into a guard rail near Kerrville. They got out to investigate when, Mike explains, “An 18-wheeler hit several vehicles including us… I saw the vehicle and I turned, and after that, that’s pretty much it.”

He woke up at a hospital in San Antonio to learn his friend of 26 years had been killed. He spent more than two months there recovering but never got discouraged.

“Michael’s always been a positive person,” says Mike’s wife Nancy, who almost never left his side at the hospital. “With him having a positive response when we told him that he had an amputation, we knew that it was gonna be okay from there forward.  He’s an amazing man.”

But Mike and Nancy knew he’d need a prosthetic leg, something that would cost about $115,000, a pretty penny for a cop whose annual salary is a little more than half that.

“We told the prosthetic doctor to go ahead and order it for us,” says Mike, “and we’d figure out a way to pay for it. He said he would, and that he would be my doctor for a while and if I didn’t pay for it, he could always repossess it.”

That won’t be necessary. This week, a man Mike and Nancy didn’t even know decided to pitch in and hold a fundraiser for them. Russell Ybarra who runs the Gringo’s and Jimmy Changas restaurants decided to take 50% of all the sales he made Tuesday and donate those to Mike for his prosthetic. Friday afternoon, Russell presented Mike with a check for $100,000!

“I had never met Mike until today actually, but I heard nothing but great things about him,” explains Ybarra when asked why he did such a nice thing. “He’s just an asset for the community of Pasadena, and we wanted to help him get back to work, which is what he wanted to do.”

Nancy says they hope to get the new leg next week.

“The Plan is to learn to walk again. It’s gonna be difficult. It’s gonna be a couple month process,” explains Mike. After that he hopes to return to his job teaching tactics and firearms and “working for my department until I get tired of it.” He adds with a smile, “And I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

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