Daily Archives: February 4, 2011

Willing and Able? You Bet

Did you hear the one about the good Samaritan with the spinal cord injury? This affair happened back in November. But I’ve recently seen the story circulating again on Facebook, so I know it continues to captivate people. A man tried to spend a counterfeit bill in a Vancouver convenience store. When the female store owner identified the fake fifty and refused to return it, the guy got angry. He shoved his way behind the counter, threatened to steal cash, and started snatching what he could.

Lucky that Larry Skopnik, a regular store customer, happened to roll onto the scene. He swiftly grabbed the robber and wrestled him to the ground. A couple of other customers held the guy until cops came.

Besides being a hero, Skopnik happens to be paraplegic. In the tussle he was pulled out of his wheelchair. But he never lost his grip on the bad guy. He says it was all about making sure the store owner didn’t get hurt. She’s eternally grateful.

“Just because I’m in a chair doesn’t mean I can’t stand up and do what’s right, even though I can’t stand up,” Skopnik told news reporters in this video. “It’s all about doing the right thing.”

Good for you, Larry: Not just for stepping in, but for pushing the point that every single one of us has the ability to make a difference. One of the widespread beliefs about people with disabilities is that they’re generally helpless, more often the recipient of care and compassion than the deliverer of such. Not true, of course. I know folks with disabilities who’ve been incredible do-gooders, from offering a cheery word of support when it’s needed to creating national non-profit foundations from the ground up for vast social change.

My helpful husband is quadriplegic. And his days of hand-to-hand combat may be over, but nevertheless he has come to the rescue in dicey emergencies. Once, when he witnessed a taxi driver across the street being pulled from his cab and pummeled, my husband drove his van in a U-turn, came up behind them, put on his high beams and blared the horn. It was enough to drive away the assailant. Hubby has also called 911 numerous times when others have been in need.

I guess the moral of the story is that anyone can do a good deed, regardless of ability. I once heard a beautiful story about my colleague’s son Joshua, who had multiple disabilities. When a teacher was planning the makeup of his class at the start of the school year, Joshua was his first pick. Why? Because he knew he’d end up with kinder, more compassionate students if this kid was in his class. Some people might have looked at little Josh and made up their minds that there was no way he could make a contribution. How wrong they would have been.

And that, my friends, is the wrap-up for the week. We’ve had our ups and downs, but stories like these remind us that we’re all in it for each other. And that’s something to hang our hats on.