Homeless, limbless man receives new Florida condo through supportive community
James Fox was born with partial and malformed arms and legs. He was always smiling and happy as a little boy, but as he became a pre-teen depression started to set in.
Born in North Miami, Fox, 33, dealt with anxiety and depression for years. He tried it all: sleep, anti-anxiety and depression medications, therapists and psychiatrists, but that all didn't stop him from having suicidal temptations that turned into an attempt.
Once he was 20 and started working as a software developer he felt a little better, but Fox ultimately began to self medicate and drink a lot hoping to take his own life.
"I was homeless and nearly helpless when Dan (Creighton) and I crossed paths," Fox said.
When he was 5 years old he put a cushion on a skateboard to get around. He still uses one today to get around, from church to shopping to everyday life.
He was riding that skateboard down Veterans Parkway in Cape Coral when Dan Creighton, chief executive officer of Creighton Construction and Development, first saw him about four years ago.
Creighton was driving home from fishing with his son Stone when they saw Fox riding on the side of the parkway. At first they thought Fox was a kid, but then Creighton saw that he had a man's face.
Creighton was concerned for Fox's safety, and Stone agreed they should go help. So he pulled up to Fox and asked if he needed a ride.
Fox was homeless, but he didn't tell them that. He took the ride and said he was going to his mom's house.
Creighton asked Fox if he could get him an electric wheelchair or a specialized car, but Fox said, "No, I'm good."
As Creighton dropped him off he told Fox if there is anything he could do for him to call. Fox never called and their paths wouldn't cross.
"He inspired me, how is this guy so content," Creighton said.
Two weeks later, Creighton went looking for Fox and never found him, but Creighton could not stop thinking about this man he just met.
Then one day two years later, Creighton saw Fox waiting for the bus. He immediately pulled over, cutting the bus off and asked Fox if he wanted another ride.
Fox remembered Creighton and got in the car. He was heading to the Social Security office for help because he was being evicted for not being able to make his rent.
Creighton took Fox to his office and gave him a check for $10,000.
"You inspired me when I was down deep," Creighton said.
Later, Creighton found out that Fox's mother had died after they first met and his father died in 2019.
Fox has since become part of Creighton's family, attending birthday parties and Creighton's son's baseball games.
He also became involved with Word of Life Church, on South Point Boulevard in south Fort Myers. Fox found a sobriety program at the church that he joined and now works with their ministries.
He also does computer work on the side.
So many times Fox fought with hope, Creighton said, but it wasn't until he found faith that it changed his life.
Fox found a condo in South Point Villas across the street from the church and Creighton bought it for him.
"The Bible says that I am my brother's keeper, and so James is mine," Creighton said.
Creighton also created a GoFundMe account for Fox, which had $8,232 as of Saturday morning, and an Amazon wish list for people to donate to help Fox get started in his new home.
"I love you, Dan, and I really can never repay the way you have changed my life with your kindness and generosity," Fox said.
On Friday, people who have supported Fox met at Word of Life Church to hear his amazing story and then were shuttled across the street to welcome Fox at his condo.
About 50 people attended, all gathering around Fox and talking to him about his journey.
Builders Care, the nonprofit arm of the Lee Building Industry Association, will help make the condo more handicap accessible for Fox by lowering things like light switches and thermostats.
Priority Marketing also rallied to support Fox and helped Creighton organize the unveiling of Fox's new home and donations.
"We are very involved in the community and we wanted to support this young man," president Teri Hansen said.
The people who were at the church and some of Fox's new neighbors, anxiously waited at his new home to celebrate. It was decorated with balloons, donated gifts and refreshments.
Fox had a smile beaming across his face as he approached the place he now calls home.
"Despite the circumstances, I am full of joy and incredibly blessed," he said.
Fox's sister, Amanda Scalise, of North Fort Myers, was in awe of everything her brother has been blessed with.
"I don't have words to express my gratitude of all the people ... from the donations, the fellowship here, it's incredible," Scalise said.
Fox was also at a loss for words, but he said it is such an amazing blessing and was incredibly thankful for everyone involved.
"If we did more of this as a community we'd be living in a different place," Fox said.
Reach Kaitlin Greenockle at email@example.com and on Twitter @kaitlinroseg