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Tough economy and health care troubles test small business owners

I led a charmed life for my first 55 years.

I worked my way through college, met Donna at work and married her after I graduated.
 
I then went to work for the local supermarket chain and worked my way up, eventually becoming a VP for a larger chain. I made a lot of money. I paid off the mortgage on our home and purchased a condo at the beach for our three children and Donna and I to enjoy.
 
I was never into having fancy cars or other possessions; I was able to save plenty for retirement. I always planned to retire at age 59.

Then one very bad day, disaster hit: I had a serious stroke.

After recovering, I tried going back to work but I was no longer able to function at an executive level.  Being way too stubborn to accept my condition, I refused long term disability.

I’ve always said, “you can knock me down, but you can’t keep me down”, so I invested all my savings in a new hardware store.

Well, that turned out to be the worst mistake of my life! I lost all my money, my health, my job.

Now, 90 percent recovered from the stroke, we are trying to build a new hardware business from the ashes of the first store.

Every day is stressful. We are both exhausted from five years of seven-day work weeks. We are way behind on the bills. We’re facing foreclosure on the store and on our home.

Yet, we have a lot of hope. Only my faith in God gets me through this.
 
I am looking for a way out, not a handout. I think 2012 will be my last opportunity to find a path to some kind of security for our old age, as both of us are now in our sixties.

It is now or never for us! We are in a free fall and need help! We don’t know what to do about our situation.