A few months ago, Auburn School District bus driver Steve Foreaker noticed one of the students on his route, Morgan Short, who uses a wheelchair, had a hard time getting up and down the steps of her apartment.
After talking with Morgan’s mom, Linda Short, Foreaker learned that Linda had to carry Morgan up and down the steps every time she needed to go in and out of their apartment.
“I would have to take the wheelchair outside, then get her and her walker and take her to the door and then pick her up and put her in the wheelchair,” Linda said. “I couldn’t take the wheelchair in or out with her in it because of the added weight.”
Foreaker, who has a background in occupational therapy, decided he wanted to do something to help.
Foreaker said initially he went to Morgan’s school, Auburn High School, to see if the shop students could make a ramp. Auburn High School’s dean of students, Doug Burt, said due to the class schedules, it probably wouldn’t work, but suggested Foreaker contact one of the local civic groups.
Foreaker remembered his neighbor and friend Way Scarff was a Rotarian and contacted him to see if he’d be interested in getting the Rotary involved, Foreaker said. Scarff decided to pay for a ramp’s construction himself rather than taking it to the club.
“Way said he hadn’t gone to Rotary very much, so Way decided to pay for it himself,” Foreaker said. “He has a builder who does a lot of work for him, Don, who agreed to supply the manpower. Don ended up making an aluminum wheelchair ramp, and installed it and Way paid for it.”
One day in April, while Linda and Morgan were out for a walk in the park, they had the ramp installed. Linda and Morgan agreed the difference it made has been massive.
“It’s been a godsend, it’s so much easier now. I don’t have to lift the chair up anymore, I don’t have to lift her two or three times just to get her out the door,” Linda said. “I can get her ready and get her in the chair and just go straight out the door.”
Since it’s just the two of them who live in the apartment, Linda had to be there for Morgan whenever she needed in or out of the apartment, Linda said.
Morgan usually uses an electric-powered wheelchair. Currently the wheelchair’s joystick is out for repair, so she’s using it like a manual wheelchair, Morgan said. Once the joystick is repaired, Morgan said she will be able to go in and out of their apartment without needing help from her mom.