Volunteers help woman shot in face build new life in Camillus

Peter Gaworecki says that to talk with Michelle Fox, nine months after the event she refers to as "her accident," you wouldn't know anything is wrong.

And he's right. Fox is an upbeat young woman, optimistic and especially grateful last week, just a day before Thanksgiving. She laughs when Gaworecki lightheartedly calls her a "mall rat," and speaks enthusiastically about the lemon theme her new kitchen will have.

But there's another layer to Fox, and it's betrayed by the surgical mask that covers her face up to the eyebrows and the small crocheted curtain that hides her tracheostomy tube. Reminders that Fox is not the "normal" 29-year-old mom she was before she was accidentally shot in the face by her husband last February.

A tragic accident

The incident was widely publicized. On Feb. 21, Fox's husband, Mariusz Burchacki, was showing her how parts from his old shotgun could be interchanged with his new gun when the weapon fired into Fox's face. Burchacki was sentenced in August to five years' probation and time served for felony second-degree assault.

Since then, Fox has been in and out of the hospital and living at Van Duyn Home & Hospital. But she and a crew of dedicated volunteers hope that in the next week or so, that will change, when Fox and her daughters Maya, 6, and Malana, 12 months, move into the brand new addition on her parents' Camillus home.

'You can't let it consume you'

Gaworecki said construction of the addition began in September and is nearly complete.

"They were asking for volunteers, and I raised my hand," he said. He had never met Fox, but his wife had worked with Fox's mother, and he had heard about her situation.

The accident had blinded Fox, and with a gamut of surgeries left to endure and two young children to raise, she was going to need assistance daily. So a two-bedroom addition, complete with a bathroom and dining area, was planned for her family's home on Camillus Road.

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