Lifestyle & Human Interest

Elderly Man Moved to Tears When First Responders Build Him a New Wheelchair Ramp After Fall


Ken Peterson, from Sunnyvale, California, lives with his wife in a home that is filled with memories of their life together.

Like many aging couples, Peterson and his wife find that home maintenance is more complicated than it used to be, as their bodies cannot perform the same tasks that once came with ease.

After suffering a stroke 10 years ago, Peterson uses a wheelchair and relies on a wheelchair ramp to enter and exit his home. But time and weather caused the ramp to deteriorate, and the couple could not afford to have it fixed or replaced, nor was Peterson able to fix the ramp on his own.

But the condition of the ramp was likely not at the forefront of Peterson’s mind when he fell at his home on May 13.

The fall left him with nasty cuts and bruises on his body and a swollen, painful hand. His wife was unable to help him stand back up, and the couple had to call for help.

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First responders from Sunnyvale came out to Peterson’s home and helped the man get back on his feet.

The team could not help but notice the rotting wheelchair ramp leading up to Peterson’s front door.

“During the course of that call, one of the paramedics stepped through the existing ramp,” Sunnyvale Public Safety Officer Dominic Bitonti told KPIX 5.

Bitonti and his team collectively decided that they could not simply walk away from the home knowing how dangerous the ramp was for Peterson to use.

“After we cleared the call, we thought it was best to repair the ramp instead of keeping it in the condition that it was in,” Bitonti said.

Peterson was overcome with emotion when his wife told him the news.

“The guy called my wife and says, ‘We’d like to come and build you a ramp for you,’” Peterson said, choking back tears.

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“Ken’s wife kept saying, ‘I didn’t know you guys did this,'” Bitonti said, according to KGO. “It might not be in the job description, but however we can help, that’s what we’re here for.”

That same day, Bitonti and his crew gathered all the necessary materials, and in less than an hour, removed the rotting ramp and repaired it with strong, new wood.

“Because of some carpentry history, he pointed to the right nails and the right screws to make sure we got it right,” Bitonti said about Peterson, who worked as a carpenter for 40 years.

The sturdy ramp will give Peterson safe access to and from the home that holds his heart and memories.

Bitonti said they were glad to help the couple, especially since the ramp is something Peterson needs every single day.

“We don’t do the job for recognition, but it just feels good to do it,” he said.

Peterson was left emotional and thankful for the selfless and kind actions of his community, and said he loves the new ramp.

“It’s beautiful, perfect,” he said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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