Myrtle Beach partners with nonprofit to bring back free beach wheelchair service
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach is partnering with a Grand Strand nonprofit in hopes of bringing back its free beach wheelchair service.
City spokesperson Mark Kruea said they stopped providing the specially designed wheelchairs during the pandemic because the service was hard to run with the health guidelines.
He said once the pandemic was over, they simply did not have enough people or resources to continue the service the way it was before.
Kruea said the process was very labor intensive. If someone needed a chair they would call the police department, and they would deliver the chair along the 10 miles of beach wherever it was needed.
The North Myrtle Beach-based nonprofit Adaptive Surf Project, which often uses beach wheelchairs to take those with disabilities surfing, is stepping in to help.
Now the nonprofit is working with the city to buy five brand-new beach wheelchairs and come up with a new plan to store them.
Luke Sharpe, director of Adaptive Surf Project, said right now the plan is for the nonprofit to provide beach wheelchairs. Then the city would pay for five lock boxes to store them, and anyone who needs a beach wheelchair could call for a code to unlock it.
Sharpe said bringing back the chairs is an important step for both locals and tourists.
“It’s sending a signal to the community of individuals that have to use wheelchairs that they’re welcomed here. That they are loved and they’re thought of as a part of the community,” said Sharpe.
Sharpe said Adaptive Surf Project just donated a beach wheelchair to the 2nd Avenue Pier a week ago.
Each chair comes with a price tag of around $1,200 and they are now looking for donations to help cover the cost of the rest.
Sharpe said this service isn’t just important for those of us who call the Grand Strand home but for those who consider booking a trip here.
“People look online to find where they can go on vacation. If it’s accessible or not. If the hotel and houses are accessible, that’s where they’re gonna go. It’s something that if you make people feel welcomed they’re gonna come,” said Sharpe.
Sharpe they are still in the early stages of plans with the city and are meeting with them again this week to discuss more.
Click here if you would like to donate or help in the effort to bring back beach wheelchairs.
Sharpe said the end goal is to have beach wheelchairs at every pier across the east coast.
Copyright 2023 WMBF. All rights reserved.