Caregiver of the Year Award Winner: Paul Broussard, Youngsville, La.

Denise
Care recipient: Stephanie, 48, who has multiple sclerosis and spina bifida OC

Nominated by: Himself (Read nominating letter.)

In his words:
When I feel stressed, I:
Call for my grandson to come visit as it relaxes my wife and I.

My current challenge is: Caring for my wife; lifting her is hard on my back.

When I have an extra five minutes, I: Look on the Internet for music.

My mantra is:
Change your thoughts and change your life.

Recommended reading: “MS, The Challenge”

The legacy I would leave to another family caregiver is: Be strong, understanding and compassionate

My 2010 goal is: Continue taking care of my wife and helping her get her jewelry design going

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When Paul Broussard married his wife, Stephanie, seven years ago, he couldn't say a word. “I was crying so much,” he says.

The Internet provided the introduction but the eyes sealed the deal. “It was love at first sight,” 44-year-old Paul says.

Prior to their marriage, Paul understood Stephanie's care needs but he also felt his strong love for her. “I wanted her to come and stay with me,” he says. He knew it would be hard, he says, while acknowledging, “I didn't know it would be this rough.”

The rough right now is assisting Stephanie with showering. It's a strain on his back, getting Stephanie in and out of the shower and in and out of the shower chair. “So as long as she is happy and I can help change the things that stand in her way, it's all good,” Paul says.

One of Stephanie's joy is cooking. When standing at the kitchen counter to prepare food became too difficult for her, Paul converted an old kitchen table into a work station. “She can sit in her wheelchair and do her prep work, use her mixer etc.,” Paul says. “I always look for ways to make her life less complicated by obstacles and more accessible through hope.”

As Paul cares for Stephanie, so Stephanie helps care for Paul's father. His father, who is 67, has difficulty with speech and swallowing. “They share similar symptoms and she never tires of doing research on the computer and contacting people for Dad,” Paul says. “She is really the remarkable one. She never gives up.”

For Paul, the best part of the day is the morning, when he wakes and enjoys a cup of coffee (“cup of Joe”). When not caring for Stephanie, Paul searches the Internet for records and LPs he can resell on eBay and Amazon. “I love music so I used my love for my wife and my love for music to begin selling online,” Paul says.

Even within the challenges of caregiving, Paul continues on with love and faith. “Good deeds will be rewarded,” he says.

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