BRIGANTINE. N.J. (WTXF) - Bernadette Scarduzio loves the beach but a degenerative disease made the trips less and less likely over time.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life, but as I progressed, I went into a chair ten years ago, so when I went into a chair going to the beach was impossible.”
For Scarduzio and others with disabilities, it isn’t just the inconvenience, it’s nearly impossible.
“I actually just stopped coming to the shore a lot because I felt like, what’s the point, know what I mean?”
Scarduzio has Charcot Marie Tooth Disorder, a disease that slowly takes the use of your arms, hands, legs and feet. Her father and grandfather both had it so she’s aware of the progress. So when she was finally forced onto a scooter. She struggled with losing going to the beach, something she had enjoyed with her family from childhood.
It’s a simple thing that many may overlook, wheel chairs, scooters even strollers simply don’t roll on sand. Rather than accept defeat, Scarduzio decided to look for ways to make the situation better for herself and others in a similar situation. The result, a long mat that now exists at 16th Street in Brigantine, NJ.
“I got in touch with the Mayor, got in touch with council people, went to council meetings, found the mobi mat,” said Scarduzio.
It took two years for the idea to process but FOX 29’s Bill Anderson was with Scarduzio when the final adjustments were made to the newly installed Mobi Mat. Scarduzio was able to go farther onto the beach then she had been in years and shared how amazing the feedback has been.
“Some lady said ‘I took my mother to the beach, it’s been twenty years since we were on the beach as a family.’ I want people to feel included because I know what it feels like to not feel included,” said Scarduzio.
At the beach that day Scarduzio met Kevin Cook. They became fast friends seemingly bonded by their love for the beach and the new independence that the mat provided.
“I’m sure that many other people with disabilities agree that you’re constantly inconveniencing somebody for the smallest little things and it gets old pretty fast.”
Seeing Scarduzio, Kevin and several others enjoying the access the mat now provides, showed what government willing to listen and people fighting for inclusion can accomplish for goodness sake.