Port St. Lucie man received help from Palm City business
By Dawn Krebs
PALM CITY -- All Jose Cotto was looking for was a little artistic flair to spruce up his daily routine. What he received was part of the ongoing community service that Mark Smith and Todd Harris, co-owners of Crown Collision Center in Palm City, have become known for.
Mr. Cotto, a 46-year-old Port St. Lucie resident, moved to the area in 2007 with his wife and children to be closer to his own family. He is currently on disability, having had a long history of injuries and chronic gout that wreaks havoc with his body.
His legs have seen the worse of it, though. A motorcycle accident resulted in a fractured tibia, in addition to high-school football injuries and another injury to his left ankle. At one point, he was bedridden for more than a year.
Now, he goes to physical therapy, and has received gel injections to replace and rebuild missing cartilage in his left knee, but his recovery is slow, measured in days.
"I live with pain every minute of every day," Mr. Cotto said. "I don't know if the next morning I'll be able to stand or not because of the pain and stiffness."
A few months ago, he was fitted for a brace on his left leg to help him walk while relieving some of the pressure. Looking at the plain, white brace, Mr. Cotto had something more artistic in mind.
"It was very clinical looking, and I am a colorful guy," he said. "I wanted to make that brace part of my personality."
So he brought it to Mark Smith and Todd Harris, co-owners of Crown Collision Center in Palm City, after finding them on the website www.dangerouscurves.biz.
After talking for almost an hour, the owners and Mr. Cotto shared design ideas, and decided on airbrushing a 3-D version of his actual tibia bone, complete with the locations of his injuries, onto the leg brace.
What Mr. Cotto didn't know at the time was that Mr. Smith and Mr. Harris have a long history of helping others in the community, including the Fourth of July fireworks display, the Stuart Air Show and Honor Flight. The business is also know for donating a van to a veteran during the 2012 Stuart air show, complete with special airbrushing on the hood, and becoming a sponsor for the free concerts at Riverwalk stage in Stuart.
So when they phoned Mr. Cotto and told him they were donating the artwork design and airbrushing services, Mr. Cotto was surprised and grateful.
"The brace has helped me," Mr. Cotto said. "It means a lot to me and symbolizes a lot of what I've gone through."
The artwork request was timely for the business owners, who have been working on a similar idea for veterans.
"We have been working on a special project to airbrush prosthetic legs and arms for veterans and other disabled people," said Mr. Smith. "We are about to launch this and it was actually a great opportunity for us to show off what we can do.
They hope that with their work, the wearer of the prosthetic limb will feel as comfortable as possible.
"We hope we can help with the emotional recovery process by making the prosthetic appear lifelike," he said, adding they can personalize the prosthetic to show scars, tattoos or anything the individual may want.
Mr. Harris will be traveling to Washington, D.C., on vacation in mid-June, and to meet with some people at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to let them know of their services.
For further information, call Crown Collision Center at 772-370-6348 or visit the website at www.dangerouscurves.biz.