Aaron D’Errico was almost home last summer when his mobility scooter gave out just before the hill on Tucker Avenue. With no way to continue up the unfinished street, members of the road’s construction crew pushed D’Errico the rest of the way.
“It was surprising, moving and cool … that they would take the time … to help out,” said D’Errico, whose cerebral palsy makes it difficult to walk long distances.
What started as a kind gesture turned into a campaign to replace D’Errico’s 3-year-old scooter so he can travel around town safely and independently.
D’Errico takes Tucker on his roughly mile-long trips to visit his mother Cynthia, who has Parkinson’s. D’Errico said construction crew members, working on Tucker Avenue in Friday Harbor, pushed him up the hill regularly that summer when the motor in his old scooter failed.
“For a while,” he said, “[they helped] almost every day except for Friday and the weekend when the crew wasn’t working.”
A photo of one of the acts of kindness was shared on social media, which prompted a fundraiser to buy D’Errico a new scooter. In just two weeks, the money was raised, and Susie Doyle and others presented D’Errico with his new ride by August. He waited until Tucker was repaved in October to start using it.
“I just believe we live in this community and we should help others,” said Doyle, who owns Susie’s Mopeds Rentals in Friday Harbor. “Aaron is a wonderful person, and he needed some help.”
Doyle’s business rents out mopeds, scooters, cars and small coupes for visitors to tour San Juan. When she heard D’Errico needed a new scooter, she contacted her supplier to become a mobility scooter distributor so she could buy a device at wholesale.
“He got a brand new scooter that would have costs thousands more,” she said. “We were thrilled to be able to do that.”
A recent diagnosis on D’Errico’s previous scooter showed the motor wasn’t equipped to handle Tucker’s large hill, but his new ride can.
The new scooter also arrived just as his worries about a 2011 accident are subsiding. That winter, an SUV knocked D’Errico out of his mobility scooter while he was crossing a sidewalk in Friday Harbor. He suffered from a head injury, then, later, hypervigilance, which means he was abnormally alert to potential dangers. This fear, he explained, caused him to “stay at home much more than before.”
“Now that I have the new scooter and some of the effects of hypervigilance have faded, … I hope to be out more, seeing the friends I love and miss very much,” he said.
His previous scooter was also donated by islanders, and he attributes the ongoing generosity to part of the island’s culture. D’Errico said those who helped with the fundraiser included Doyle, Sara Perkins, Winter Rose Seibert, Andy Gutierrez, Lorie Narum and Brian Moore.
“The community’s love, support and generosity are so heartening,” he said. “[This] is yet another shining testament to the altruism of our caring community.”