Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers Part One

It seems people always tend to focus on the things individuals with disabilities cannot do.

Yes, I must admit it is very obvious that most people in wheelchairs are unable to walk. But as I have seen time and again, there is so much more to life than the steps we take.

I strive to be as independent as possible everyday.  I also strive to share every experience I possibly can with my daughter. 

Most days I am able to successful do both of those things.  Some days I struggle with both of those things. 
Normally, if success is achieved in an area I am struggling with, it is in part due to the kindness of strangers. 
I encounter the kindness of strangers almost everyday, but in the last few days, several have gone above and beyond. 
On Saturday my husband and I took Annabelle to the Tennessee Rail Road Museum for a DAY OUT WITH THOMAS.  She LOVES Thomas so we knew this would be a fabulous day. 
A few months back I spoke with someone at the Tennessee Rail Road Museum about the accessibility for this event.  I was told that I would need to be in Car Two but I would probably have to transfer to the train seat as there was no where on the train to park my chair.  And there was a chance my chair would be too wide to even fit on the train for me to transfer from. 
Jeremy called and spoke with the Tennessee Rail Road Museum Friday evening before we went just to make sure we wouldn't have any issues.  He was told again that I would have to ride Car Two.  No problem.  We could make this work.
Once we arrived at the Tennessee Rail Road Museum everyone was so helpful.  The volunteers in the parking lot directed me to an upfront spot and even placed cones along the passenger side of my van so that I would not have to worry about anyone parking next to me and keeping me from being able to deploy my ramp. 
We quickly made our way to the boarding area in case there were any issues that needed to be worked out.  Jeremy and I explained our situation and relayed the info we were previously told.  All three men shock their heads and said Car Two will not work for you.  There is no where to park your chair and they didn't even think the doorway would be wide enough. 
In a split second, I started to get worked up.  This was going to be another activity that I had to watch Annabelle do with her Daddy from the sidelines. I know it is going to happen more frequently than I would like.  I was just very disappointed because we were lead to believe I could experience this with my daughter. 
Before I could get too worked up, Mr. Gordan had a solution and it was even better than Car Two.  He was going to push the train up so that I could ride on Car Five and stay in my wheelchair.  This was PERFECT!! 
I didn't really understand what it all meant until we got the depot.  You see when unloading the train, Car Two stops at the ramp and the rest of the cars unload using steps.  It was going to take some extra time but it was going to work....all thanks to the kindness of a stranger.  After everyone was unloaded, the train moved up to where Car Five was at the ramp.  Jeremy, Annabelle and I were able to board the train as a family.  Plus we got the train all to ourselves for a few minutes. 

I am sure the individuals at the Tennessee Rail Road Museum have no clue what a positive impression they have left on me.  Thanks to them being willing to think outside the box, I was able to be included in an entire day of fun with my family. 

The next time you see a stranger in need, I challenge you to help in anyway that you can.  It could be as simple as opening the door or as grand as thinking outside the box to help someone experience riding Thomas the Train with their child. 

You will never truly realize just how much these gestures of kindness mean to a stranger in need.   

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