LARSEN, Wis. Saturday is a special day for the Larsen-Winchester Lions Club as they finish building their 1000th wheelchair ramp. The members build ramps for people in the community who are wheelchair bound at no cost.
Having access to the outdoors was a struggle for 86-year-old Neil Pergande, but that all changed Saturday afternoon. After suffering multiple strokes, Neil uses a wheelchair for mobility.
"He had a stroke and he's only got one good working leg and so with the wheelchair and stuff this ramp will make it a lot easier to get out and he's got a dog that he likes to play frisbee with and throw a tennis ball and so that'll be good therapy for him is getting out and playing with his dog and get him more active," said Roger Pergande, Neil’s son.
Neil's ramp is a unique one, because it's marked the 1000th ramp built by the Larsen-Winchester Lions Club.
"It's just a wonderful time just to be able to see the emotions of the people coming off the ramps. I remember when a little child was in a wheelchair and he got on the ramp and he let his hands go and he goes 'weeeeee' all the way down the ramp, it was just a beautiful thing," said Bugsy Stanek, President of the Larsen-Winchester Lions Club.
Usually a team of ramp builders consists of anywhere from seven to nine members, but on Saturday the whole team came and joined in on the milestone build. The Larsen-Winchester Lions Club has been building ramps since 1989 and in 30 years they've built seven miles worth of ramps.
Roger says he can't thank the club enough, because after a tough year, this ramp is the key to reuniting his dad with his love for the outdoors.
"Having access to the outdoors so he can play with his dog and enjoy the outside is great, because he milked cows until he was 84-years-old so he's always been outside and this will really help that," said Roger Pergande.
Members of the Grand Chute, New London and Kaukauna Lions Clubs also chipped in during the 1000th wheelchair ramp build.
“My favorite thing is getting together with the fellow lions and we're doing this and it's just a happy time for everybody, it's just what we can do for the community," said Stanek.