Let the good times roll: Non-profit helps disabled men and women access beaches

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Though Thursday was wet and cloudy, some braved the showers to head to Wrightsville Beach for an adventure.

Though some might plan which beach access to head to, others, like today’s visitors, have issues accessing the beach at all.

That’s why Stephen Bried made his way to Wrightsville Beach, where Access of Wilmington provided all terrain wheelchairs to disabled men and women.

“Literally, this is the first time since I’ve been paralyzed that I’ve literally gotten down into the sand close to the beach,” said Bried. “In 32 years of being like this.”

Bried has been paralyzed since he was 24. Though he lives in a beach town, he says it’s almost impossible to enjoy fun in the sun, let alone get to Wrightsville.

“If you’re disabled, and you have to depend on WAVE or a public transportation, they can’t cross the Wrightsville Beach Bridge,” he said.

Since moving to Wilmington, Bried has only been able to access fishing piers. He’s watched the beach from a distance, hoping one day to enjoy it himself.

“You don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s gone. And you take the simple things in life, like your physical abilities, beautiful things and access to these beaches.”

But Thursday was finally the day! Bried took one of Access of Wilmington’s all terrain hoppers for a spin. Bried said joyriding through the sand felt awesome.

“I don’t feel disabled or physically challenged anymore,” he said. “I feel as if I’m in my own vehicle and I’m here at the beach and I’m doing something that I’ve always wanted to do. And I couldn’t without Access of Wilmington.”

Disabled men and women signed out all terrain hoppers for up to an hour Thursday. Access of Wilmington usually holds this Accessible Adventure program once a month.

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