Broken wheels and a broken mission. It’s a wheelchair, and a car. It’s a life line, and freedom. It’s also out of commission.
We’re talking about a wheelchair. Such a simple device, but one that brings so much independence for 49 year-old Jamie Conrad, who suffers with cerebral palsy. He takes his powered chair all across town, and many in Henderson might recognize him as the guy, often scooting around downtown.
But Conrad wasn’t doing much scooting lately. It took a call for help, and a few Henderson firefighters, going beyond the call of duty, to get this disabled man moving again.
You see, his wheelchair is suck in the corner of his apartment, broken down. It’s done some damage to his drive. “I have to play the hand that I’m dealt,” he says of his predicament now, and in life.
His powered wheelchair is supposed to push him a comfortable 6 miles per hour, which surely isn’t breaking any land speed records. But don’t tell that to Jamie.
“I feel like the Flash,” he says with a laugh. In fact, he’s wearing the superhero’s sigil on a a t-shirt; the yellow lightning bolt wrapped by a ring.
Unfortunately, Jaime has slowed a bit this week, far from the Flash’s top speed.
“It ain’t like it was back in the day,” he says, slowing pushing himself in a manual wheelchair.
That’s where the guys at the fire house come in.
“He comes by quite often to talk to the guys and knows some of them pretty well,” says Henderson Assistant Chief, Ayron Thompson.
Conrad called the fire station not far from his home, and asked for help. “I ain’t got no money,” he told them.
No problem, they said.
Thompson and others hooked Jaime up with a rental wheelchair, granting him the greatest gift he could ask for – freedom.
At least inside his four walls.
He and a few others set Conrad up with a new set of temporary wheels. A rental chair will get him through at least another week.
It can be said, true appreciation is giving thanks even when no one is listening. “I really appreciate it, guys,” Conrad says, “I really do.”
Jamie’s thanks can be measured with a few struggled spins of his chair, and love to the man up there. “If it wasn’t for the good Lord, I wouldn’t be here,” he says.
Jaime has a replacement part coming for his powered wheelchair and it’s covered by his insurance. He should be up and running again at the first of the year.
“I guess I really ain’t got too much to complain about.”