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John Kespert
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John Kespert   My Press Releases

Have Power Wheelchair – Will Roll

Published on 5/13/2016
For additional information  Click Here

Have Power Wheelchair – Will Roll

     Although I've needed to use a wheelchair ever since I contracted polio at the age of six in 1955, the only ramp at my parent's house consisted of 3 long wood boards that went went up to the platform at top of the front stairs. There was still one more step up to go through the front door. My Dad or others would tilt my manual wheelchair backwards a bit to get me up or down that step.

     Finally, many years later, we were able to afford to put in a proper wheelchair ramp that met all the official requirements for incline level and support. It went from the driveway, all alongside the porch at the side of the house, and end at a new door installed at the back of the porch.

     That new ramp made it possible for me to be able to obtain and use an electric wheelchair. Now, for the first time since the age of six, I was able to take myself in and out of the house. Prior to getting that power chair, even after somebody had brought me outside, the most I'd ever been able to push myself was around the the corner to the two streets on either side of our street. But now I could go considerably farther. I could easily go 3, 4, or 5 streets over. I found that I could even go up a ways along Main Street to the pedestrian lights and then cross that 4 lane main road and cross to the other side. That gave me such a new sense of freedom.

     But I knew there were limits as to how long the batteries of my chair would last. However, I wasn't sure what those limits were. Could I go a mile away and then back? What about 2 miles and back? It wouldn't be good to go so far as to not have enough power to make it all the way back home.

     The solution to going greater distances despite limited battery life would be to make use of the bus that came through our town twice an hour during weekdays. I was a little nervous about attempting that. But if I wanted to be able to go much beyond the surrounding neighborhood, I would have to give it a try.

     The day came to give it a try. I rolled up to the bus stop and waited there. It pulled up and came to a stop. The front and back doors opened so people could step on or off. The driver then walked to the back of the bus and operated the controls by the back stairs. The motors engaged and the stairs flattened out to form a platform. I wheeled on and it lifted me up to the floor level of the bus. I wheeled over to a space where I could fit my chair. The the lift was turned back into stairs, and we went on down the road. (By the way, the guy in the photo is not me.)


     That day all I did was go to the center of our town, visit a few stores, and then return about an hour later. Whatever nervousness I'd had about attempting to use the bus was gone, and I could hardly wait to do it again.

     A few days later I did indeed get back on the bus. Only on that day I did not get off at the center of our town. I stayed on board all the way to the end of the line in Quincy center. At that point I suppose I could have been content to just browse around there for an hour or two before heading back. But, no, I wanted to do more!

    The end of that bus route in Quincy center is right at a subway train station. I went inside, purchased my fare, then took the elevator down to the platform. As soon as the train arrived, I rolled aboard. I was exhilarated to be on the way into the city of Boston on my own.

     I got off at the Downtown station in Boston and took first one elevator and then another to get to the surface. Tall buildings (compared to my home town) were on all sides. Down the street a little ways was the Boston Common. I had definitely ventured a “bit” outside my neighborhood.

     Content that I now had the ability to get in and around much of the greater Boston area whenever I wanted, I returned to the subway platform and got on a train that I knew would make a stop at the Quincy Center station.

     When we reached that station I got off, wheeled over to the elevator and pressed the button. After I waited a couple of minutes, I pressed the button again. And I waited some more. Finally, I pressed the intercom button to ask or help. The elevator was out of order.

     A couple of MBTA employees arrived and it was determined that there was nothing that could be done about broken elevator anytime soon. I wondered if I'd have to go back into Boston and take a different train to a station in another town that also had a bus line that went through my home town. But one of the men had an alternative plan for me to consider.

    What other way could there be to get somebody in a heavy power wheelchair from a subway platform up to the street level to catch a bus? He suggested that I wheel over onto the moving stairs of the escalator while he stood behind me holding my chair so it wouldn't tip over backwards. Now that was definitely absurd idea! But, nevertheless, that's exactly what we did. The only thing that went at all wrong was that one of my foot rests fell off right after we arrived at the very top. But the footrests are designed to come off and on fairly easily, so that was fixed in just a jiff.


     I'm actually glad that I had such a difficulty on my first venture of making a round trip to Boston. I figured that if a problem like a broken elevator could be overcome in such a short order, then there was no telling what would now be possible when it came to going out on my own. Who knew where I could go or what I could do?

     Little did I know that one day I would get married to a wonderful gal who also used an electric wheelchair and together we'd go to locations in and about Boston that many of the able bodied residents never bother to go see.

     If you've enjoyed this IBO Press Release about my life and what I'm interested in, I invite you to see a list of links to the others that I've written by Clicking Here.



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