People In Wheelchairs Get Free Lift On To Boats - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/26/05

People In Wheelchairs Get Free Lift On To Boats

Muscular Dystrophy has never stopped Greg Smith from enjoying the thrill of fishing.

"It's really not about fishing. It's about being out there with family and friends, my kids, my father."

And since Smith uses a wheelchair, he relies on his 66-year-old father to board a boat.

"He's getting older, and I'm getting more disabled. So it's good to have an option for the future, when the day comes when he won't be able to lift me into the boat."

That option is now available at the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi. During a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, USM's Technology Learning Center launched a free, dockside lift that transfers people into a boat safely. The equipment can lift people up to 375 pounds and it's custom-made for any type of vessel.

Dr. Sara Jackson is the director of USM's TLC.

"When we found out that a lift existed and we could have it modified and put it on a pier in Mississippi here in Biloxi, so that people who use wheelchairs can get on a boat like the rest of us."

That means Greg Smith won't have to rely only on his dad.

"It's exciting. I think it offers several options when you take people out on the boat. It's great. I really like it."

The lift is available to the public at no charge. It's located at the Point Cadet Marina fuel dock, behind the Isle of Capri Resort.

The Coast Gulf Community Foundation donated the $5,000 to buy the equipment.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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