Volunteers gear up to ramp up

Project builds wheelchair ramps for homebound
Apr. 25, 2014 @ 09:17 AM

If Mamie Cannon, 78, visited her home in Lenoir today, she would only be able to look at it from outside.

Recently confined to a wheelchair after surgery on her back and leg, she cannot make it up the three steps leading to the mudroom of her house. And the bills for her surgery mean she can’t afford to have a wheelchair ramp built. So for now, she has to stay in a nursing home, Carolina Rehab Center in Burke County, far away from her own bed, the babbling brook in the yard and her beloved pet dachshund, her son Doug Cannon said.

“She really, really needs it because she’s going to be in a wheelchair or walker situation for a very long time, if not the rest of her life,” he said. “If we could get her back home, I think it would help her spirits and so forth. The only time she’s been out of the rehab facility was to go to the hospital, and that’s not much of a change of scenery.”

But she may get some help Saturday.

Groups of volunteers across the state will gather for Rampin’ Up!, an event pulled together by the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry to build wheelchair ramps for those who cannot afford or build one themselves.

The only question is whether there will be enough volunteers in Caldwell County.

The first Rampin’ Up! was in April 2012, and this is the second. More than 350 requests for ramps have been received, including Cannon’s, said Carol Layton, administrative and communications manager for the event.

Layton said that for someone who needs a wheelchair ramp and does not have one, life is challenging and unsafe. If someone cannot physically leave their house, he or she will not be able to get out in case of a fire or other emergency.

“It can cause depression. It reduces the quality of life,” Layton said. “And, there are many people who live like this, because Medicare may provide the wheelchair, but they do not provide a ramp.”

One ramp takes four to six hours to build and costs $500 to $1,000, depending on the length. But the main limitation on how many can be built is the number of volunteers.

“Anyone can [volunteer]. Anybody that wants to build a ramp is welcome to, and we connect them with a person in need,” Layton said. “It’s a beautiful camaraderie. It’s a beautiful sight to see them out building ramps for their neighbors in need.”

Tony Setzer of Lower Creek Baptist Church has volunteered to build ramps previously. Last week, he and other members of the Lower Creek Baptist Brotherhood constructed a ramp for a woman who lives in a mobile home park off of Friendly Park Road in Lenoir.

“She seemed to us that she was well-pleased and very appreciative, her and her kids,” Setzer said. “It was a nice ramp, so she can go in and out in a wheelchair. She has one of those motorized chairs. She can easily get in and out where she couldn’t before.”