Thomas Mitchell may look like a mechanic, but we have a sneaking suspicion that he’s really an angel in disguise.
The Clarksville, Tennessee, man fills in as a substitute bus driver for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System when they are in need of an extra driver. It was on one of those substitute routes a few months ago that he saw something he just couldn’t get out of his head.
As he stopped in front of a house to pick up a special needs student, he noticed something that broke his heart – a mom struggling to carry her daughter’s wheelchair down the steps of their front porch.
Ten-year-old Lydia uses a wheelchair to get around, but her house doesn’t have a wheelchair ramp. To leave the house, her mom, Verna DeSpain, has to use a rickety portable ramp to guide Lydia’s wheelchair down the stairs in reverse. They couldn’t afford to build a more sturdy ramp.
“It worked better than not having one at all, but we had to put it on the second step and it was flimsy,” Verna said. “It wasn’t the best or the safest.”
After watching Verna struggle with Lydia’s chair, Thomas couldn’t stop thinking about the pair.
“There was just hardly any room for her to maneuver this wheelchair,” he said. “It just didn’t seem right for somebody to have to struggle like that.”
Thomas got Verna’s contact information and a few days later he called her and offered to build a customized wheelchair ramp for Lydia – for free.
“I was just so shocked,” Verna said. “I got a call from him out of the blue.”
It took a few months to get all the plans together. Thomas got some friends to help him, gathered up the right tools, and got a local Lowe’s to donate all of the materials they would need.
Then, one Sunday morning, he and his friends showed up at the DeSpain’s house and got to work. They finished the ramp, along with a small, fenced-in deck, in less than three hours!
“I thought it was going to be all day, so when he told me we were done I was just shocked and actually very impressed,” Verna said. “They went above and beyond what we were expecting.”
Now Verna and Lydia don’t have to struggle to get Lydia out of the house.
“I’m very thankful and grateful,” Verna said. “It’s a major blessing. This is the best year my children and I have ever had.”
Thomas said he was happy to help the grateful mom and daughter and hopes his actions will inspire others to go out of their way to help their neighbors.
“Everybody should be helping out their neighbor, and so many people just drive by,” he said. “So many people comment, you know, that it’s such a great thing. I challenge them to do the same. There’s no greater feeling.”
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