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South Bend man receives ramp, gets freedom back

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 12:13 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - “I finally get to go outside,” Rickey Woolridge said. “I mean, really a lot of it is just going outside.”

Going outside is something many of us take for granted. But for Wooldridge, getting out the house has been very difficult lately.

Wooldridge has had multiple sclerosis for 24 years, but his most recent attack left him in a wheelchair.

“When I was 29,” he said. “I was like this too, in a wheelchair and I was like, ‘I’m not going to sit in this wheelchair.’ Now, I’m 53 it’s a bit harder to get out.”

He thought nothing could be done to help his situation. Then, his family reached out to SAW’s Ramps.

“We provide these ramps for people that are both physically challenged,” Frank Aquila, area coordinator of SAW’s Ramps, said. “They typically have to have a permanent disability, as does our client here today. And also, we help those that are financially challenged.”

The non-profit organization builds ramps for free to help those in need get back their independence.

“When they find out about SAW’s,” Aquila said. “They just find it as a complete blessing, which it is. We bless them for what their needs are to help them become more mobile again. Be able to get back in the community again.”

SAW’s is made up of volunteers who want to help their fellow community members.

“It’s just important for me to serve my neighbors and again, to serve God,” SAW’s Ramps volunteer Brandon Kitkowski said. “I do this willingly and we all do it out of the goodness in our hearts. And it’s just something we enjoy doing, working with our hands to help somebody else out.”

Wooldridge has big plans now that he has a new ramp.

“I’m going to go up to the park, first off,” he said. “Have a good time, enjoy life. Like I been doing, trying to just survive and enjoy what nature has to offer.”

To learn more about how you can apply for a free ramp or donate to SAW’s Ramps cause, visit www.sawsramps.org.

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