By SUZANNA MAHLER Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
DELRAY BEACH When fate slipped David New an unexpected ingredient, he turned it into a recipe for living. The 34-year-old Delray Beach resident was diagnosed with HIV in 2000. Since then, he has lost his sight and hearing, suffered from spinal meningitis and become paralyzed from the waist down. "I was completely bedridden at one point," he said. "My weight was down to 120 and the doctors said I should eat as much as I could, so my grandmom went to work in the kitchen." "Grandmom," 93-year-old Elizabeth Grode of Boca Raton, fed New until he gained 50 pounds. Eating, combined with hard work and dedication, has given him the strength to walk. His hearing also has returned, but CMV, or cytomegalovirus retinitis, has stolen his sight. CMV is a result of complications from HIV. When he started to feel better, his family told him about screen-reading software for the blind called Job Access With Speech, which they learned about at a convention for the blind in New's native Philadelphia, where New lived before moving to South Florida with his family. After learning how to use the computer program, New and his grandmother started a three-year project that they finished about a month ago: "Grandmom Grode's Gourmet Goodies." The cookbook contains 52 recipes: 33 for cakes and pastries and 19 for soups and miscellaneous dishes. "She had all her recipes on little scraps of paper and kept them in a baggie," New said. "So she'd dictate and I'd type them into the computer. Once I had the database, it was a piece of cake." In the beginning, the two created the cookbook for the family, but the outcome was so well received that New and Grode wanted to share it with others. "I attached an audio compact disc for visually impaired people," New said. 'There were a lot of blind folks who were interested in it."
Not only did this project help New keep his mind off his illness, but it also brought him closer to his grandmother. "She's very giving," he said. "She's always baking for everyone and she won't accept any gifts from anyone. This was an opportunity for me to give her something." And Grode couldn't be more proud of her grandson. "David used to be terribly sick and inactive, but this project has sparked a remarkable recovery in him," she said. "Now he comes to visit me with his seeing-eye dog.
He achieves so many of his goals. It is an honor that he promoted the book to celebrate me." "Grandmom Grode's Gourmet Goodies" costs $21.95 and can be bought at www.grandmomgrode.com.
What is your favorite book?
"The DaVinci Code."
If you could visit anywhere, where would you go?
'The most beautiful place I have ever visited before I lost my sight was Florence, Italy. The feeling I got there was a warm one that I would like to remember and
How would your best friend de scribe you?
"He would say that I am very outgoing, funny and friendly and that I have the ability to engage almost anyone in conversation. He would add that I am a survivor and I try not to let my disabilities keep me from achieving my dreams and potential."
What is your favorite childhood memory?
"My bar mitzvah."