Many of you that listen to the morning show are aware about the local story we've been covering about the gentleman in downtown Asheville whose electric wheelchair batteries died while he was in the middle of the street Tuesday evening. For those of you who may have not heard the story, here's a little recap. I was on Facebook Tuesday evening sifting through posts and ran across a post on the WAX (West Asheville Exchange) Facebook page and saw a post from a woman named Stephanie Davis.
While she and a friend, Maggie Ewing, were walking home from dinner they came across "David"...he was in his electric wheelchair in the middle of Haywood Street with a dead battery. Not only was it dead but rendered useless and needed to be replaced. Another perfect stranger enters the picture, Matt Svencicki...then 2 more, Asheville Police Officer Doug Williams and Asheville Police Officer Travis Harralson.
It took all 5 of them to push David's wheelchair uphill to the Days Inn hotel. These 5 perfect strangers proceeded to reach into their pockets and get David a room for the night until they could figure out how to resolve the battery issues with his wheelchair. You see, David has cerebral palsy and is completely immobile without his wheelchair.
That's as far as the story went...or so I thought. I really felt like these 5 heroes needed to be recognized. I talked to our Sales Director about getting them some gift cards to recognize them as local heroes. She agreed and handed me 5 gift cards for Asheville Brewing and Pizza. Wednesday morning, after telling the story on the air, our Sales Director Caroline Early got a call from Ingles...they also wanted to give those 5 heroes a $50.00 gift card. I reached out to Stephanie and Matt as well as Officer Williams and Harralson and told them we were making them our Hometown Heroes of the Month for what they did.
After chatting with Stephanie it became very clear that I was no longer able to cover the story without getting involved in the story. She explained what was going on with the batteries and said they weren't really sure what to do to get things fixed. Enter Joe Rainey from Rainey Battery. I called Joe to find out how much it was going to cost replace the batteries to get David mobile again...after explaining the situation, Joe stepped up to the plate and replaced both batteries at no charge. Hero number 6 for those of you keeping track. I got back in touch with Stephanie and Matt to tell them good news. Joe Rainey covered the batteries and ordered them for a Friday delivery.
Friday came around and about 10:45 my phone rang.
"Hey Mark, its Chris from Rainey Battery. Just wanted to let you know your batteries are here and ready to go!"
I had my parents in town visiting for the Easter holiday, I loaded them up along with Melissa and off we went! After picking up the batteries we headed to Ahope in downtown Asheville where David was patiently waiting. Stephanie met us there and the mission began. My Dad and I went in and met David for the first time. It's hard to find something comparable to the smile on his face, let's just say he was beaming. My Dad and I got right to work. Old batteries came out with very little problem and then...snag! The bolts were to short and too wide! Stephanie jumped in her car and ran over to the Firestone shop on Patton where they gave her exactly what we needed. With the new batteries installed, my Dad and I got David back into his chair and had him give it a test.
Off he went, mobile again riding around the inside of the center smiling from ear to ear! David was mobile again, perfect strangers were now perfect friends and everyone's world was just a little bit brighter.
It's still a little bit mind blowing looking back at how this all came together but the important thing is that it did. It took the efforts of everyone...Stephanie Davis, Maggie Ewing, Matt Svencicki, Officer Doug Williams, Officer Travis Harralson, Joe Rainey from Rainey Battery, Melissa Leveal from Ingles, Caroline Early from iHeart radio, Gene Austin from iHeart Radio, Tressa Pedulla from iHeart Radio, John Starling (my dad).
Every single one of these people gave a little bit of themselves to help out a perfect stranger.