New Yorkers rally to help beloved bar bouncer paralyzed by COVID-19

Faces of the Pandemic
Raymond C. Vidal

Raymond C. Vidal (GoFundMe)

Coronavirus left a beloved Upper East Side bar bouncer paralyzed and unable to support his family.

Raymond C. Vidal Jr., known as Big Ray to customers at Dorrian’s Red Hand, worked at the bar for more than 20 years, according to GoFundMe organizer Mary Kate Miller.

“The enforcer at the door, Big Ray was also the biggest, sweetheart and teddy bear,” Miller wrote. “He took care of so many of us for those years, it’s now our turn to meaningfully return the favor.”

Vidal struggled to eat, sleep and breathe for a month in 2020, he wrote on GoFundMe. He thought he recovered, but resolved to be extra careful as a precaution. In May of 2020, he felt off on his way home from a doctor’s appointment.

“During my drive home, I started to feel extremely weak,” he wrote. “My feet and hands started going numb. By the time I reached home the pain had worsened.”

He thought he’d be OK if he rested, so he went to bed. Vidal’s knees buckled and he fell to the floor when he tried to get up the next morning. He was rushed to the hospital.

“I was temporarily paralyzed and the doctors had no idea as to what happened to me,” he wrote on GoFundMe. “I was hospitalized for several months, unable to see any friends or family — which can be crucial to one’s recovery. I was left feeling scared, depressed and hopeless.”

Vidal was eventually diagnosed with Guillain Barre, a condition in which the immune system attacks the body’s nerves. He spent three months at a rehabilitation center so he could learn to walk again.

“Currently, I am unable to return to work, due to my diagnosis and the long-term complications and disabilities COVID-19 has left me with,” Vidal wrote on GoFundMe. “I had been the primary financial provider for my family — and I’m unable to support them at this time.”

Vidal issued a plea for help and his call was quickly met. More than a thousand people donated to help his recovery effort and his family.

“I understand this has been a difficult year for so many, and not everyone is in a position to donate, but if you’re able, we’d be eternally grateful for any help you can offer during these trying times,” he wrote. “On behalf of myself and my family, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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