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‘Rampathon’ benefits Marysville vet
MARYSVILLE — For seven volunteers from the Master Builders Care Foundation, it was a few hours’ free labor on a sunny Saturday, but for 87-year-old Anguess “Hap” Adkins, it’s a lifeline to the outside world.
Marysville’s Adkins, who’s been wheelchair-bound for the past decade, was one of the beneficiaries of this year’s “Rampathon” on May 14 by the philanthropic arm of the Master Builders Association of Snohomish and King counties. His wife Della had applied for help from the Master Builders Care Foundation last year, not only because his existing wheelchair ramp wasn’t built to code, but also because his front door was impassible for his wheelchair.
While Sunshine Vanover supervised Melody Howard, Wendy Davidson, and Krissy and Emily Enberg as they trimmed the hedges and shrubs around the existing ramp, Andy Gemmer constructed a mini-ramp leading from the front door to the porch of Adkins’ trailer home, allowing him to roll out in any direction, before refurbishing the main ramp from the porch to the street, by replacing its support columns and installing protective railings on each side.
“It’s a piece of cake,” said Gemmer, as he cut custom-fit planks and plywood planes on the spot. “I usually frame houses, so this is an easy job. I’ve built sheds and garages, but this is my first wheelchair ramp, which is why I want to make sure you could land a helicopter on it.”
Adkins, a World War II veteran who retired from Scott Paper in 1986, moved into his current home with his wife 27 years ago, and until a dozen years ago he was able to maintain it himself. According to Adkins, the original wheelchair ramp was built by friends who had no construction experience, and while he remains grateful to them for their aid, he and his wife have become increasingly concerned about his safety, especially in the wake of a small house fire they dealt with recently.
“Because of that big lip just under the front door, I had to switch from one scooter to the other to get outside,” Adkins said. “I couldn’t get out by myself. If you have a fire in an old trailer like this one, it can burn up like a flash. If Della wasn’t here, I’d never make it out of the house. But now, she can go shopping and do errands and she doesn’t even have to worry about me.”
Even before Gemmer had finished work on the main wheelchair ramp, Adkins took advantage of his new front door mini-ramp to exit the house unassisted for the first time in years.
“Boy, that’s something,” he smiled, as his scooter rolled effortlessly through the doorway. “This is a great thing for me.”
“Now you’ll be cruising all over, huh?” Vanover asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Adkins laughed.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to give back to the community by helping the elderly and disabled, who aren’t able to do this on their own,” Krissy Enberg said. “It feels so good to know that he’s in a safer environment now.”
Master Builders Care Foundation volunteers have built more than 300 wheelchair access ramps in Snohomish and King counties since 1993. Adkins was one of 16 disabled, low-income homeowners for whom free wheelchair ramps were constructed in those two counties on May 14.