Port Orange man selling late wife's Christmas collection to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian
PORT ORANGE, Fla. - Elves, Santas, snowmen, and the Grinch. If it had to do with Christmas, it was probably in Bryan Salisbury's wife's "Christmas Room."
"She loves it, anything to do with Christmas. She would wear stuff with Christmas, anything with Christmas," Bryan said.
He and Debbie married 34 years ago. After 35 years working as a NASA engineer, Bryan recently retired, allowing him and Debbie to start their next chapter of travel.
"We were all planning, you know, doing some, RV trips and things, and traveling the country and maybe the world," he said. Tragically, seven months after retirement, those dreams were shattered after Debbie died in a car accident.
Authorities said Debbie somehow drove off the road and into a tree, and then into a pond of water where the vehicle flipped upside down. Debbie was taken to the hospital, but test results showed she had no blood flow to her brain.
After three days, Bryan made the emotional and difficult decision to remove Debbie from life support. He also was searching for a new purpose in life.
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He said he found joy in helping others, especially after Hurricane Ian devastated Florida. Bryan spends much of his time helping five families at his church who lost practically everything from flooding.
He helps them tear out drywall and remove cabinets. One family is staying in his beach home.
"I want to help people. I genuinely mean that. My wife is that way, but I really do. I want to, you know. I don't need anything. I'm all set for retirement. But there are people that need things desperately," he said.
In another way to help, he's decided to sell some of Debbie's Christmas decorations that she's collected over the years and hopes to donate the money to people impacted by Hurricane Ian.
"She would want to do this. This is exactly what she would want to do. She loved people, she loved children, loved Christmas, and her hope would be the people buying these things would have the same feelings with the ornaments and stuff. She'd be happy. I'm glad to do it. I loved her," he said.
Bryan said he'll be at the "All Aboard Flea and Farmer's Market" in Port Orange on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18 & 19. The address is 5005 S. Ridgewood Avenue.
He has also created an online fundraiser to raise additional money for Hurricane Ian victims. He has a goal of $10,000.