Youth is indeed a fleeting moment in one’s lifetime. One day you’re bounding up a flight of stairs, the next you’re walking slowly with perhaps the aid of a cane. Such is the cycle of life.
However, if you’re someone like wheelchair-bound 95 year old vacationer Dottie Schneider, who still enjoys the sun and the surf, however, cannot get to the beach because of your limitations, what can you do?
That’s the dilemma that faced daughter Kimberly Waterbury, from Chandler, Indiana, when she decided to take her mother with her on vacation this October to Orange Beach on the Gulf Coast.
Schneider, had been a fairly active senior until she suffered a stroke nearly four years ago, forcing her to use a wheelchair. That life altering event also prompted Kimberly to begin making a memory book about her mother’s life.
“Then came this Alabama trip,” she said by phone from her home in Indiana. “I have a whole new chapter. She wants to go back.”
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So last week Kimberly, along with her best friend, Pamela Jones, and Pamela’s mother-in-law, Linda Jones, bundled-up Dottie and her wheelchair in the family SUV and headed for a weeklong vacation to Orange Beach, in Alabama.
ORANGE BEACH — After her mother suffered a stroke nearly four years ago, Kimberly Waterbury started making a memory book about her life. "Then came this Alabama trip," she said by phone from her home in Chandler, Indiana. "I have a whole new chapter… https://t.co/M0WABjnbta— The Decatur Daily (@decaturdaily) October 24, 2021
Kimberly’s goal was to make her mother’s dream come true. She wanted her mother to feel the warm, soft sand under her feet, even dipping her toes in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps even rekindling some heartwarming memories when she was a young girl vacationing on the same beach decades ago.
However, when the women got to the beach on their first day, they quickly realized that the wheelchair could not be wheeled through the soft sand. They struggled for nearly a half hour outside the beachfront Holiday Inn Express, until a lifeguard from Orange Beach Surf Rescue saw their plight.
“Our guards have been instructed to try to help people out if they’re having a tough time,” says Brett Lesinger, beach safety division chief for Orange Beach.
Shane Martin, the lifeguard on duty, quickly assessed the situation and decided to transport the women in his all-terrain utility vehicle. Kimberly explained that her mother can’t walk, relying solely on the wheelchair for transportation, however, she would really love going to the beach.
Without hesitation the strapping young lifeguard whisked both mother and daughter into his vehicle and drove them over the sand to the exact spot where the lounge chairs and umbrellas were waiting for them, courtesy of the Holiday Inn Express.
From that moment on, the team of lifeguards decided to make “Ms. Dottie,” as she became affectionately known throughout the hotel, their priority.
Kimberly exclaimed after witnessing their dedication; “They were faithful. They were there. It made my mom’s whole trip.”
Adding; “Any day she felt like coming down, we wanted to make sure she got there,” says Lifeguard Brett. “We told her to holler if the sun was too much.” However, it was never too hot for “Ms. Dottie,” who would recline in her beach chair under the shade of her beach umbrella listening to the gentle waves. On occasion she would doze off, perhaps dreaming of her youth when she was a young girl romping on the beach or perhaps diving head first into the rushing surf.
The team of lifeguards would check every morning to see if “Ms. Dottie” wanted to come down to the beach. If she did, one of them would gently pick up the frail 79 pound woman and carry her to the beach and gently place her on her beach chair.
After the women returned home from their vacation, the lifeguards at the Orange Beach Surf Rescue posted on their Facebook page the following message. “Lifeguards are public servants and we could not be happier to help provide this service. Ms. Dottie Schneider recently visited us here in Orange Beach at the age of 95, in hopes to enjoy the beach but was unable walk through the sand on her own. Everyday for one week Lifeguards would meet Ms. Dottie and her family to help assist her down to her beach chairs, and then at days end escort her back to the condo. The family thanked us in return with a fridge full of food at the end of the week.”