Garfield mailman, son come to rescue after thieves steal wheelchair ramp

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Toni Yates reports (WABC)

A disabled Garfield man was reeling after some cold-hearted thieves made off with the wheelchair ramp to his house. But thanks to help from his fellow man, Joseph Connelly still believes in the good in people.

"There is a God," Connolly said. "I believe there is a God for sure."

He spoke those words in spite of the Multiple Sclerosis that has him in a wheelchair and the cancer he is battling, as well as the heart attack that claimed his wife's life.

And he got an incredible lesson in love in the face of despair, after someone stole his ramp. His landlord warned it might happen.

"He said they might take it because it's aluminum," Connelly said. "I said no. A couple of weeks ago, a truck pulls up, guys got out, I said, 'That's my ramp, not scrap.' They said sorry. Two weeks later, come to get my paper, I said no way, they took it on 9/11. 9/11 of all the days."

Word got out that it was gone, and that Joe was stuck.

"Unless my aide helps me, I can't leave the house," he said.

Offers to replace it poured in, including one from mailman Gerard Waksmunski and his 13-year-old son, Sean. It took them two days flat to solve the crisis.

"I'm not a carpenter, but I know how to put a hammer to a nail," he said. "I didn't dwell on the past. This is damage control. It's helping a person in need get beyond the theft."

Waksmunski decided to serve as a role model for Sean, who made it his Boy Scouts service project and erase the criminal deed.

"I'm proud to do something for a guy that needed help," Sean said.

It was an act of love and service that was not lost on Connelly.

"Saved the day for me," he said. "I was in the Boy Scouts. I know how it is."

Police are asking scrap yards to be on the lookout for the old ramp, but he's OK. The new one came from some pretty cool hearts that have always had his back.

Related Topics:
societywheelchair accessibletheftGarfield
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