One day, filling in as a substitute bus driver in Tennessee, Thomas Mitchell saw a mother struggling to get her daughter down the stairs of their home and to the bus. Her daughter sits in a full-sized wheel chair, and the task for 2 people would be challenging, let alone one woman. The scene affected Mitchell deeply. “There was hardly any room for her to maneuver this wheelchair,” he said.
Right away Mitchell made up his mind to help the family. He contacted the local Lowe’s. With their wood donation and a little elbow grease it took 2 and a half hours to build the ramp.
Lydia’s mom, Verna DeSpain praised the men who built and donated the ramp. “I felt very touched and just elated, and very thankful and very blessed. It really started our year off great.” She’d been using a portable ramp to get Lydia’s wheelchair down from their porch and couldn’t afford to buy a better quality ramp. “It worked better than not having one at all, but we had to put it on the second step and it was flimsy. It wasn’t the best or the safest.”
The ramp isn’t just a ramp either, it’s a full deck. Verna looks forward to sitting outside with her daughter on warmer days.
As for Thomas Mitchell, he figures he ended up substituting the bus route that day so that he would meet the little girl and her family and be moved to help them. He also hopes this will inspire others to help out those around them. “Everybody should be helping out their neighbor, and so many people just drive by,” he said. “So many people comment, you know, that it’s such a great thing. I challenge them to do the same. There’s no greater feeling.”
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