— 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.