ROSEBORO — Richard and Laura Barefoot knew when they opened Railroad St. Steakhouse in Roseboro that they not only wanted to create a successful business for themselves and the town but they also wanted to use that business to help others, particularly those in their own community.
Over the past few years, the Barefoots have done just that and are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, right now, they are busy preparing a benefit dinner for one of their own — Roseboro resident Sgt. Corey Muzzy.
Twenty-four year old Muzzy, a cannon crew member of the 18th Fires Brigade 3rd Battalion 321st Field Artillery Regiment who had previously served overseas in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was one of the soldiers injured in the Feb. 21 live-fire training accident at Ft. Bragg. The tragic event killed one, put Muzzy and a fellow soldier in the hospital with critical injuries, and caused minor injuries to five more. The accident is still under investigation.
When a local presented Barefoot, also a town commissioner in Roseboro, with the idea for a fundraiser for Muzzy in the town park, Barefoot offered to take the lead on the fundraiser and host it at his restaurant.
The benefit dinner for Muzzy is set for next Wednesday, March 19 at Railroad St. Steakhouse, 102 Railroad St., Roseboro. Dinner will be served from 3 to 9 p.m. and will include grilled chicken, pot roast, fried pork chops, green beans, mashed potatoes, fried apples, desserts, and beverages. Tickets for the dine in or dine out fundraiser are still available for $10. Interested persons can contact Barefoot at the restaurant at 910-525-7245 or via Facebook for more information.
“You can’t do enough for our military guys,” said Barefoot about his decision to spearhead the fundraiser. “It’s a good, opportune time to help someone, a local person here in town, through the restaurant. Me and Laura thought about that kind of thing a lot when we opened up. It’s a way, a time, to go above and beyond.”
“We hope to do 1,000 people that day,” he added, noting that the restaurant can seat about 250 people and that he will have plenty of take-out boxes ready for those who want to pick up their meal and take it home. “I’ve already taken 200 tickets over to Corey’s unit.”
Muzzy’s wife Michelle has remained faithfully by her husband’s side ever since learning of his accident early that Friday morning, taking turns with her mother-in-law in staying with him at Duke University Medical Center where he is still recovering from his many injuries.
However, during a quick trip home to Roseboro earlier this week, Michelle stopped by Railroad St. Steakhouse to meet Barefoot, hear more about the benefit dinner, and give an update on Muzzy’s condition.
“He’s doing quite fantastic,” she shared excitedly. “Everyday he looks so much better. He has his jokes; he’s still the same Corey.”
Michelle recalled for Barefoot how she was awakened at 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 21 with the news that her husband of just nine months had been hurt in a training accident.
Although she didn’t know the seriousness of his injuries then, “I was crying and freaking out…I couldn’t contain my thoughts to follow through with anything,” she shared, crediting family members with helping to calm and comfort her.
Once at Womack Army Medical Center, doctors told her about Muzzy’s accident, listing his injuries from the least to the worst. They told her of his brain bleed that they already had under control and of his broken arm. Then they informed her that they had to amputate his right leg and warned her his badly injured left foot might be next.
Michelle pointed out that she was able to take the news of his amputation well because she and Muzzy had talked about the “what ifs” of his job, including the loss of a limb. “I knew it was something we could handle.”
Then the doctors told her her husband was blind.
“That’s when I lost it,” she said. “To know Corey…he needs his eyes.”
Muzzy was quickly transferred to Duke and underwent some 10 surgeries in the course of two weeks. Those surgeries including repairing a fracture in his neck, taking a muscle and skin from his thigh — a skin flap — to reconstruct his left foot, and performing extensive work on his eyes.
“They worked on his eyes for six hours one day,” shared Michelle, adding that doctors are amazed that he can detect light and shadows with his right eye but that they continue to say he will likely not regain sight in that eye. She was also excited to share that Muzzy’s skin flap procedure has proven successful, eliminating the need to amputate his left foot. In fact, she said, according to doctors, it’s “textbook perfect.”
“It’s all wait and see right now,” she continued, noting that Muzzy is “really only concerned about his eyes.”
Despite the concerns and the long recovery still ahead, the couple is thankful for the good news he’s already received.
“He’s a trooper…he’s in good spirits,” Michelle said, adding that the same is true for her as well.
“He’s alive. Someone died; he was standing right next to Corey. My husband shouldn’t even be here, and he is, so I’m over the moon,” she said. “None of this changes anything. If anything, it makes me love him even more…if that’s possible.”
As they await the needed approval from Muzzy’s eye doctors to move him into acute rehab, Michelle shared that Muzzy is more than ready to make that move and kick his rehabilitation into high gear. “He’s so impatient.”
Muzzy would love to be able to attend the benefit Barefoot is organizing in Roseboro, his wife noted, but as his injuries will not allow for such so soon, she plans to attend in his place.
“I’m excited. This is really nice of them. I didn’t expect all of this at all,” Michelle said, searching for the right words to express her appreciation. “It’s overwhelmingly awesome. Everybody here has been fantastic. I’m beside myself with the outpouring of love.”
Both Michelle and Barefoot have been touched by the generosity of others where Muzzy is concerned. Barefoot’s food vendor, U.S. Foods, has already donated $1,000 for food for the benefit, and numerous individuals have already made monetary donations, ranging anywhere from $20 to $100.
“We’ve got a great family and friends, a good support system, and even strangers…I’ve cried over it because I never expected people to be so simply amazing,” she added.
For the latest updates on the benefit, check out Railroad St. Steakhouse’s page on Facebook. Also, keep up with Muzzy’s recovery through the Team Muzzy Facebook page.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.