When 95-year-old Dottie Schneider went on a vacation to Alabama, she hoped to feel the warm sand beneath her feet and spend a sunshiny day at Orange Beach. Thanks to a group of lifeguards, Dottie was able to do just that and make the trip a truly memorable one.
While Dottie and her daughter, Kimberly Waterbury, were on their first day of vacation, they were outside the Holiday Inn Express and were unable to get the the great-grandmother’s wheelchair through the sand. As they began struggling, a lifeguard working with the Orange Beach Surf Rescue noticed them and was eager to help.
The lifeguard, Shane Martin, showed up next to them in his all-terrain utility and gave Dottie and Kimberly a lift all the way to the beach. Once they arrived, Shane lifted the frail body of the elderly woman and carried her all the way to the lounge chairs they had booked. Then, Shane gently placed Dottie in the chair, where she sat and enjoyed her time basking in the sun and wallowing on the beach.
“Being able to put her feet in the sand and seeing the waves crash on the shore, I think that made all the difference,” Brett Lesinger, Beach Safety Division Chief in the City of Orange Beach, told Fox News.
Not only did Dottie feel the sand under her feet, but she also got to dip her toes in the Gulf of Mexico during her vacation. Every single day, the lifeguards would show up and take Dottie down to the beach. “That was overwhelming,” Kimberly told AL.com. “They were faithful. They were there. It made my mom’s whole trip.”
Some of the lifeguards, especially Shane, was the same age as Dottie’s great-grandchildren, and they treated her they same way they would treat their own great-grandmother. “Any day she felt like coming down, we wanted to make sure she got there,” said Brett. “We told her to holler if the sun was too much.”
In 2017, Dottie had a major stroke, and doctors thought she may not even be able to speak again. But the elderly woman made a fantastic recovery since then. Dottie can no longer walk and uses a wheelchair, which makes it difficult for them to go on their usual beach vacations.
However, this year Dottie “wanted to put her feet in the sand.” So Kimberly set out on a vacation to Alabama with her and then came back home to Indiana with some precious memories. Dottie had such a great time on their vacation that she even brought back home some sand from the beach.
“We are forever indebted to the guys with Orange Beach Surf Rescue,” Kimberly said. “They made my mother feel special.”
As she tried to fight back tears, Kimberly added, “She was not made to feel like she was a burden on anybody.”
To show her appreciation for the lifeguards, Kimberly tried to tip them several times. But they would say: “All the pay we need is watching her smile.”
The happy lifeguards shared their experience on Facebook and wrote, “Lifeguards are public servants and we could not be happier to help provide this service. Ms. Dottie Schneider recently visited us here in Orange Beach at the age of 95 in hopes to enjoy the beach but was unable walk through the sand on her own. Everyday for one week Lifeguards would meet Ms. Dottie and her family to help assist her down to her beach chairs then at days end escort her back to the condo. The family thanked us in return with a fridge full of food at the end of the week.”
Cover image source: Orange Beach Surf Rescue/Facebook