Family thanks Fire Department for providing beach wheelchair
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -The McDaniel family moved towards the wind and the waves a few months ago, and quickly realized they were stuck in the sand--literally.
Their son, Joe, has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy, so he lives life from a wheelchair that isn’t meant for the beach.
“So, someone on the beach here told me that they had beach wheelchairs at the fire department, so I went to the fire department and asked to borrow one,” said Joe’s mother, Cyndi McDaniel.
Starting in January, McDaniel made weekly trips to the Kure Beach Fire Department, each time to borrow a specialized beach wheelchair.
“We didn’t know exactly what it was for, we get calls at the fire department all the time asking for beach wheelchair rentals and all that,” said Director for Kure Beach Ocean Rescue, JD Lanier.
The department offers beach wheelchair rentals for 7-10 days at a time, all for free.
“I would borrow one for the first week, then I took it back then I would go back and borrow it for the next week, and after about the 40th time, one of the guys was like ‘Mrs. McDaniel you just need to keep it, like it’s the winter, no one’s gonna use it,’ so I kept it through the winter,” said McDaniel.
McDaniel worked with the care coordinator and other officials to get Joe his own beach wheelchair, but it was going to take lots of paperwork and precious time. “I was like ‘JD it’s not gonna be here soon, is there any way I can keep it?’ and he was like Mrs. McDaniel we will find a way for you to keep it”
McDaniel homeschools her kids, and they walk on the beach everyday for their physical education lessons, while pushing Joe in his wheelchair. Something that wouldn’t have been possible without help from the fire department.
“it’s always good to help the people that we’re serving in our community in other ways than emergency services, it’s nice to know that we can also help in just a small way of lending a beach wheelchair to somebody that needs help getting on the beach”
But it wasn’t just a small gesture, “to them they were just helping, but to me it was monumental, it was an act of kindness you can’t describe unless you have a special needs child,” said McDaniel.
A special thank you to these everyday heroes. “The fact that we got to borrow the wheelchair for so long, and I know I wasn’t really supposed to do that, makes me feel humbled, and honored, and blessed and it makes me want to give back,” said McDaniel.
Now, she wants to give back to her community--the one that she can’t thank enough for their support when the family first moved here.
“They were the first people we met when we moved here, and it was a true example of what a community is supposed to be like when no one is watching, that’s what everyone hopes they get when they move somewhere, and we didn’t know what we were gonna get, but that’s what we got, so I would just like to thank them for all they’ve done for our family,” said McDaniel.
After months of waiting, lots of paperwork, and many measurements taken, Joe has his own, personal beach wheelchair.
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