Laurie Reeves (seated) is all smiles, as is Jim Reed (rear) who donated his late mother’s electric wheelchair to Reeves following a chance meeting outside Reed’s BX area home. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Laurie Reeves (seated) is all smiles, as is Jim Reed (rear) who donated his late mother’s electric wheelchair to Reeves following a chance meeting outside Reed’s BX area home. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Meeting leads to donation of wheelchair for Vernon men

Jim Reed found Laurie Reeves checking out an electric wheelchair outside his home, then donated it to the longtime Vernon resident

The man outside his BX home was a curious sort.

Jim Reed saw the man in his power wheelchair checking out a similar unit in Reed’s driveway, the one that belonged to Reed’s late mother, Beryl Nerling.

Beryl passed away in November of 2020. She had lived in assisted care and had used the Quantum Electric Wheelchair for three years.

The man, Laurie Reeves, had been cruising around the BX in his chair. He happened to turn on the road Reed lives on and saw the chair at the end of the driveway.

“I was looking out the window and I saw him cruise by and check it out. He even kicked the tires,” laughed Reed. “We got into a conversation about the chair. I warned him it went slow.”

The reason for the slowness is that the Quantum chair only had first gear after Reed and family had the other gears removed for their mom’s and her fellow residents’ safety.

Those of you who have lived in Vernon a long time are likely familiar with Reeves.

He was disabled at age 12 when hit by a car in Oregon, then moved to Vernon to live with family and, well, never left.

Reeves gained a reputation as a stellar athlete in swimming, cycling, running. He loved birds, once housing more than 20 in his home. He worked up at Silver Star for a number of years.

But he was best known for having a broom in his hand. Reeves looked after the City of Vernon’s streets and avenues and its back alleys downtown, earning rave reviews for his cleaning work and dedication.

Now 63, Reeves has been living in assisted care for more than a year, joking with nurses and residents. He’s broken a hip after a fall out of his other chair and recovered.

After a discussion with his wife, brothers, and sister, Reed decided to donate his mom’s chair to Reeves. No strings attached, though there was a rope that helped Nerling get out of the chair, but Reeves removed it.

“My wife knew of Laurie from his swimming and my mom liked that he had birds,” said Reed, who decided to ride the chair down from his home – in that first gear, remember – to pass along to Reeves.

“Took me almost half-an-hour,” laughed Reed. “I barely got across the sidewalk on the light at Silver Star Road.”

For Reeves, the gesture from Reed and family was incredibly nice.

“I appreciate it so much,” said Reeves. “I don’t go out much but this is great. Thank you so much.”

“You deserve it,” said Reed.

And Beryl would have approved.

READ MORE: Rescued birds find safe new home (p. A18)

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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