KATONAH, N.Y. – For Peter Devey and Paul Berry, two local business owners who have run Indian Auto Collision in Katonah since 1990, trust and honesty have always been key parts of the relationships with their customers.
Add to that compassion and kindness, which was demonstrated in a gesture toward Somers resident Lindsay Ruiz, who recently brought her car in to be repaired after a minor accident involving a run-in with a deer.
“The hood wouldn’t open, the light was broken, the fender was bent out a little bit,” Berry said. He put together an estimate that amounted to $3,800 and conveyed it to Lindsay, who discussed it with her father.
“The next day my father called Paul to find out if just the hood could be repaired and at a later date we would come back and repair the rest,” the 26-year old explained. Ruiz, a Somers High school graduate who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in business while working full-time at an orthopedics company in White Plains, said she felt she could not afford to completely restore her car.
What she did not know is that Berry had noticed the words on her license plate frame: “CURE FOP.” He decided to research it and learned that it referred to a rare genetic condition called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva or FOP—and that his new customer is living with the disability.
FOP is a debilitating medical condition that impacts only one in two million people—with just 285 known cases in the United States, according to ifopa.org. Often misdiagnosed as cancer, the condition is one where rogue bone growth occurs in the body; it is a progressive transformation of soft tissue into cartilage and bone. The growths restrict movement and mobility and are often exacerbated by trauma to the body. Despite ongoing research and a clinical trial that is underway, there is currently no treatment or cure for the condition.
Devey and Berry, friends for 50 years and lifelong Katonah locals, turned to each other after realizing the tremendous challenges that Ruiz has had to face with her diagnosis that came at age 12.
“Pete goes, you want to hook these guys up, right?” Berry said. “Let’s just give it to them, do the whole job for nothing—we could donate to IFOPA or we could just help Lindsay—and she is right here in front of us. She is obviously a very brave and courageous person,” he agreed.
When Ruiz and her dad came to the shop a few days later, she said her Honda Accord looked like the accident had never happened. To their utter surprise, the men let them know that the work was done as a gift—and that they would not be charged.
Overcome with emotion and gratitude, Ruiz said she was amazed not only at the work they did, but the generosity that the shop’s owners showed her.
“Paul and his men have reinforced my belief that there are still good people out there,” she said.