Trenton resident Richard Morris received a wheelchair ramp and, in turn, regained his freedom thanks to the Trenton Firefighters Charity and local Masons.
Morris, 57, suffered a stroke eight years ago, paralyzing the entire right side of his body. He is now confined to a wheelchair.
The ramp was built Saturday at the house of Morris’s friend, Bernie Thomas.
Thomas met Morris about 15 years ago and the two became fast friends. She said she didn’t hesitate to take Morris in after his mother, who was his primary caregiver following the stroke, had taken ill.
Morris and Thomas live together in a small, well cared for home at on West Jefferson Avenue.
When Morris first moved into her house in 2010 Thomas said she began calling the to help her get Morris and his wheelchair off the porch. At 6 feet 2 inches and 240 pounds Morris is not easily carried down three steps leading from the front door to the driveway.
The stroke took away Morris’s power of speech and now Thomas gives him a voice.
“He’s a young man,” Thomas said. “He’s only 57 years old. He doesn’t want to be stuck in the house all day.”
Trenton Fire Chief Bruce Vick heard about Thomas’s difficulties and decided last year to use money from the Trenton Firefighter Charity to buy enough lumber to build a ramp. The problem was finding someone to do the labor for free.
A year went by and eventually members of the Trenton and Wyandotte Masonic temples and the Detroit Zion One Church decided to donate their time to build the ramp.
Vick said the recent community build at helped inspire the Masons to get involved in the project.
Thomas said the charity could not have gone to a nicer person.
“He’s a good man,” Thomas said. “He always was a good guy.”
Before his stroke Morris was a jet mechanic. Thomas is a retired hairdresser.
She said she doesn’t mind helping her friend in his time of need.
“I’m just doing what anyone else would do in my situation.”
Thomas also cares for her neighbor who has Parkinson’s disease.
She said she is eternally thankful to Vick for offering to build the ramp, which according to Vick will likely cost about $700.
Vick added gave him a discounted price for the wood required to build the ramp.
Thomas said the ramp would likely be about 30 feet long and just wide enough to fit Morris’s wheelchair.
“This way he can get out and do things,” Thomas said. “I’d do it for just about anybody that needs help. I care about Rick (Morris) and I know he cares about me. It’s not a chore when you know somebody needs it.”