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Friday Harbor artist leads battle against clunky curbs, and wins, with ease

A contoured ramp at the intersection of Blair Avenue and Spring Street helps Aaron D
A contoured ramp at the intersection of Blair Avenue and Spring Street helps Aaron D'Errico navigate his motorized wheelchair through the streets of Friday Harbor with greater ease and safety.
— image credit: Steve Wehrly

Sometimes you don't have to fight city hall to get things done.

All Aaron D'Errico had to do was ask.

At D'Errico's urging, Town of Friday Harbor Administrator Duncan Wilson agreed to build a couple of ramps on downtown sidewalks to help himself and others with mobility challenges—like mothers pushing strollers, seniors and bicyclists—get across Spring Street.

D'Errico has been maneuvering his motorized wheelchair around Friday Harbor since he was a kid, and he hasn't let cerebral palsy or even getting run over by a truck in front of the Palace theater in 2011 stop him from getting things done for himself and others.

Several years ago, he was instrumental in getting stop signs put in at Second and Guard streets after almost getting hit while crossing the street in front of the community theatre.

"People here and across the country have helped me," D'Errico said, noting it took little effort to convince Wilson and Mayor Carrie Lacher to cut four curbs and install ramps at two Spring Street intersections in downtown Friday Harbor.

"I'm very grateful for that help and it makes me want to help others however I can."

D'Errico knows how those ramps will help a lot of people in addition to himself.

While visiting the ramp location recently for photos, Aaron was pleased when a senior with a walker and a family with a stroller used the ramps within five minutes.

town curb cut-aways"All I had to do was call Mr. Wilson and explain the situation," he said. "Before I knew it, it was don."

Wilson said he knew immediately the location D'Errico was talking about when he called a couple of weeks ago.

"I love it when things happen the way they're supposed to," he said. "Those curbs at the Spring Street, Argyle Street "Y" and a block west at Caines Street, near the Presbyterian Church, are difficult for a lot of mobility-impaired people. But it took somebody like Aaron to make us aware of the situation. He's been gracious thanking us, but we should thank him."

The total cost for four ramps? Only $12,000, paid from town reserves for small projects.

D'Errico is now back to focusing on another project to help others. He using his creativity, honed as a comic book artist and illustration contest finalist, to develop a "motion comic" to promote reading abilities for kids.

To check out his project, go to https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/help-make-my-comic-book-dream-come-true. D'Errico's website is www.aaronderrico.com.

 

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