Our neighborhood has a dedicated walk for peace around the lake every Sunday afternoon. I have cerebral palsy and fibromyalgia and use a power wheelchair to get around. On my way home from the walk one Sunday in November 2002, my chair’s power was low, but I thought it was OK.
I rolled on homewards. Five blocks from home, my chair gave out. I tried turning it off for a few minutes, but when I tried moving again it rolled only a few feet before stopping. I got out of the chair, flicked the switch, and put it into manual. Though I used to walk, nowadays my muscles are just too worn out. But I managed to push the heavy chair one block.
Except for the fact that there was no curb ramp on a hilly street, I’d have made it home. I struggled with it and finally gave up and moved the chair back to the curb. I was about to abandon it and crawl the four blocks home when a fellow approached me on foot.
His name was Robert, and he’d just walked six miles to visit a friend. He said he’d try to assist. We walked the chair across the street together, but halfway up the block, my legs gave out. Robert told me to get in and slowly pushed me up the block. When he said he couldn’t do it anymore, he tried hailing several cars to help us.
A guy in an SUV came to our aid and drove me the three blocks while Robert pushed the chair home.
I was so grateful to Robert. I offered him some water. He used my phone to call his girlfriend to come pick him up. The next few days, I was completely sore in my legs, and hoped Robert wasn’t equally sore. I was extremely lucky to have had his help that night.
The next Saturday, I was rescued again! My assistant Lace and I were out for an afternoon walk. We hit the wrong angle at a curb cut, causing the chair to hit her in the shin. She accidentally pushed the joystick the wrong way and broke it, leaving us unable to move the chair.
A woman named Celia pushing her baby girl in a carriage kindly went home and got her cell phone. The motorized chair’s phone numbers didn’t work. So Celia called her husband, Nick, who brought their car and took Lace and me home while Celia stayed to guard my chair. Lace phoned my case manager, and he and his girlfriend relieved Celia and brought my chair home.
Robert, the man in the SUV, Celia and her husband Nick, and my facilitator and his girlfriend all took time out of their lives to help me. They won’t win a Purple Heart, but because they rescued me when I really needed help, they will always hold top honors in my memory.