Program builds 2,500th wheelchair ramp, looks to serve Tennessea - WSMV Channel 4

Program builds 2,500th wheelchair ramp, looks to serve Tennesseans with disabilities

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Students with Belmont University's Department of Physical Therapy helped build a new ramp for Michael Williams on Friday. (WSMV) Students with Belmont University's Department of Physical Therapy helped build a new ramp for Michael Williams on Friday. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Friday was a milestone for a program serving Tennesseans with disabilities. It was also a life-changing moment for a local man.

"This is my pride and joy," said Michael Williams, pulling back the plastic covering from a car. "My father, this is his Ford Mustang. It's a '65, the year I was born. He flipped a coin between me and my sister, and I won the car. Yeah, I did luck out on that one."

Williams grew up around North Sixth Street, a lot of his favorite memories centering around that '65 Mustang.

"We went to the drive-in in this thing when we were little," he laughed. "That's a summer project for me and my son to get it back running,"

All those years living around the area saw some hard times too.

"At the age of three, it was found I had a tumor on my spine," he said.

After a series of back surgeries, Williams said he ended up with spinal stenosis, confining him to a wheelchair.

"It's a struggle sometimes, but I mean, life is a struggle," he said.

Trying to focus on being a father, Williams faced a major problem with the wheelchair ramp on his childhood home falling apart.

"I've had to overcome a lot in my life," he said.

Friday, help arrived. Students with Belmont University's Department of Physical Therapy built Williams a brand new, sturdy ramp.

Matt Brown of United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee said this is done through their partnership with the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. He said they seek out Tennesseans with disabilities who couldn't otherwise afford the work.

"It reminds us of why we do what we do to see someone get in and out of their home without an obstacle," said Brown.

Williams' story is a milestone. Through the wheelchair ramp program, he is the 2,500th person to have a ramp built in Tennessee. 

"It's overwhelming to see people come out and volunteer their time to people who are not able," said Williams.

With an obstacle taken out of his way, Williams said he can turn his attention to those family projects that matter, namely restoring that Mustang. 

"I'm not trying to let anything bring me down," he said.

The ramps program came about in 2006 with the Tennessee Housing Trust Fund. Reps for the programs said $2.4 million has been invested to build ramps and do other home modifications.

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