Marsha Reiniers of Spring Hill, Florida, reads this column in the daily Hernando Today. She has an interesting request this Christmas season and upcoming winter: If you have a disability parking sticker, physically are having a “good” day and could walk from further away in a parking lot, consider being a Good Samaritan and giving up your parking spot to a person with a disability more in need.
“It’s a touchy subject here in Florida because we have so many people in their 80s and 90s who are disabled and need assistance walking,” said Reiniers in a telephone interview. “Disability is close to my heart because of what I do as a long-term care insurance specialist and because disability affects my older brother and parents.”
As for her 67-year-old brother: he incurred work-related injuries and had back surgery that went awry in 1997. He uses an electric wheelchair, employs 24-hour caregivers, and has paralysis from the chest down. He has had two shoulder surgeries.
Said Reiniers, “So my brother is physically limited in what he can do. For example, when he and his wife go out to eat and the handicap parking section is filled, she has to block traffic at the restaurant’s front door to lower him in his side-door wheelchair lift, leave him there, and drive to find a spot before returning to him.” She then has to repeat the entire process in reverse when leaving a restaurant.
What bothers Reiniers most occurs when she sees a person using a handicap spot and then later tirelessly walking around a grocery store for an hour or two.
As for her parents: They are 87 and 90, live independently, and recently began looking at long-term care options. She said, “My parents really need (a handicap tag) but refuse getting one because they feel they can walk, albeit with a cane. They feel they don’t deserve a handicap spot and don’t want to take away one from someone in worse shape.”
In Florida, she said all people need do to acquire a handicap tag is ask their doctor to fill out a certification form for sending to the state department of motor vehicles. That state department doesn’t ask questions.
Again, she asked readers with handicap tags who are able to walk well on any given day to “perhaps just consider others who aren’t as capable.”