Healthy Grand Rapids man paralyzed by West Nile

 Al and Joy Walczak never once imaged that their piece of paradise on Grand Rapids’ West Side might harbor danger.

“We’ve spent a lot of summers right here on the porch,” Joy Walczak reminisced recently. “It is ironic: We sat here last year thinking, ‘It’s so beautiful out here. Mosquitoes never bother us.’ But apparently there was at least one.”

There’s no way to know for sure if the bite that gave Al Walczak West Nile virus and changed his life forever happened in the couple’s own front yard, but there’s no question it occurred in Kent County.

He was a healthy, active, guitar-playing retiree who spent his career in international studies traveling the world. But not last summer: The couple didn't travel outside Kent County in July and August 2017.

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