NEW JERSEY (WTXF) - A Marine Corps veteran has new mobility and new freedom thanks to a FOX 29 viewer who saw a need and stepped up.
FOX 29's Lucy Noland had reported on 87-year-old Bill Richardson some months ago. Richardson was fighting with his apartment building over his desire to feed and care for stray cats around the complex. When Lucy discovered a bigger and potentially more dangerous problem facing Bill she called FOX 29's Bruce Gordon for help.
When Gordon arrived at Richardson’s Barrington, New Jersey apartment, he met Bill’s two indoor cats named Peanut and Dolly. Bill is most definitely a cat person.
“I just like their habits, their movements,” he said, “They move like animals in the jungle. Slow movement. Graceful."
Bill would be the first to admit, he's not so graceful these days. In fact, back in November he tripped over a coffee table in his apartment, fell to the floor. He laid there for several days before anyone realized he was hurt.
"A couple days,” Richardson said in a matter-of-fact tone. “I really don't remember much of it. I might have been unconscious for a while."
A hospital stay and rehab followed. That was enough to convince Noland to reach out to Gordon and for Gordon to contact a longtime friend.
On Friday, Noland and Gordon took Richardson for a ride from Barrington to Feasterville, Pa. the home of Seventh Street Medical Supply. The boss Andy Scolnick was waiting for us and, as usual, he out-did himself.
"Here's a brand new power chair for you,” Scolnick said as he presented Richardson with a battery-powered wheelchair.
Bill was like a kid on Christmas morning. "This is so easy to handle,” he said as he maneuvered around the Seventh Street office.
That wasn't the end of it. Andy's daughter took a picture of their family cat as a present for Bill.
"Learning that he was in need of something that I knew that I could help,” said Scolnick to Gordon, “I had to respond to you, immediately."
Bill spent the afternoon racing around the parking lot, learning the intricacies of his new ride. He admits he is a little self-conscious.
"I'm not an easy guy to give things to, believe it or not. And it's a little embarrassing."
Maybe. But he's also appreciative of strangers who see someone in need and step up.
"Absolutely great. Sensational,” Richardson said to Gordon from the seat of his new wheelchair. "God bless, to you and all the folks here."