Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Youths help build ramp for Johnson City family

JOHNSON CITY — The process was painstaking. First, Bob Gould would pull himself out of his wheelchair by the back door. He’d move himself over to the first step and pull himself up — one, two, three times — to get to the door.

His mother, Mary Grogan, would grab the wheelchair, help him up into it, and they’d be able to go into the house.

On Tuesday, as he rolled down the newly-constructed ramp for the first time at his Virginia Avenue residence, he smiled and said, “perfect.”

The added mobility will change the pair’s lives, they said Tuesday, when the ramp was unveiled. Gould and Grogan received it for free through the Faith in Action Volunteers Ramp It Up program, run by the Broome County Council of Churches, after two years on the waiting list.

Gould can now travel in and out of the house on his own. He has been living with cerebral palsy since birth and has been in a wheelchair since he was 7 years old. He’s now 38 and works with computers for the Broome County Department of Social Services.

“I can start riding the bus again and just get out of the house by myself,” he said. “I can get to work by myself now.”

Grogan and Gould would have preferred a ramp out their front door, but a steep hill put an end to that plan. The ramp was installed in the back, limiting car access to the garage and encroaching on the backyard. But it was a small price to pay.

“We got our phone call about two weeks ago. We’re so thankful,” Grogan said. “The two of us aren’t getting any younger so this is a gift.”

A team of four youths and three adults built the ramp in less than two days. They’ll build three ramps in six days in the area, an ambitious goal, officials said Tuesday. Since the program’s inception in 2009, it has built 54 ramps. Ramps are built to Americans with Disabilities Act specifications and are funded through donations.

Kiki Banks, a 15-year-old from Johnson City, helped build the ramp. She became involved with the program through a youth group at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church. To watch Gould roll down the ramp for the first time made her choke up with emotion, she said.

“It just felt good to help somebody who needed it,” she said.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cruisin’ Pallooza raises money for Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse

Whitney Point was the place to be this weekend if you like choppers, American Cruisers or sport bikes. As  Elyse Mickalonis explains, although the 13th annual Cruisin’ Pallooza was all about motorcycles on Sunday, riders have a serious message they want the public to hear. Gear heads and motorcycle enthusiasts got the chance to check out some pretty cool rides this weekend at the Cruisin’ Pallooza.

 WHITNEY POINT, N.Y. -- It’s a lot different that driving a car. "It’s the wind in the hair, the cool breeze and just the freedom of it,” said Steve Ellsworth, Town of Binghamton Resident.

 Tim Columbia, Southern Tier ABATE Member, added, "Enjoyment out of a country road, riding through the curves with a rhythm, it’s almost like music."

 This weekend’s 13th annual Cruisin’ Pallooza event drew a lot of gear heads and motorcycle enthusiasts, as Sunday marked third annual “Bike Night During the Day.”

 Visitors enjoyed food, vendors, and bike games, while riders competed in seven classes, from sports bikes to American Cruisers. "Most people don’t need a trophy to appreciate their bike more.

But to be honest, bragging rights are priceless,” said Ralph Thorn, Johnson City Resident. Riders said they’re also urging the public to pay extra attention while they’re on the road during the summer, as more bikes will be out.

 "You've got to be a defensive driver. It's like football, you've got to be defensive all the time and be on the lookout,” said Ellsworth. Columbia added, "You look and you look twice. Don’t roll through stop signs. Don’t roll through right on reds. Stop, because a motorcycle might be coming." Thorn said, "Keep your eye out for us.

But if I’ve got mine running you’ll see me, because you’ll hear it, before you see it." There was also a bike show hosted by the Triple Cities Chopper Club and a ride to the event by Southern Tier Harley Davidson. Proceeds from the event will go towards Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.