Disabled Parksville woman walks beach for first time in years


 A remarkable effort on a Parksville Beach Saturday granted a woman her long-held wish to feel the sand between her toes and water washing over her legs once again.

Sixty-seven-year-old Diana La Monte lost her mobility four years ago and thought she would never walk to the water’s edge again.

On a picture perfect day in Parksville at low tide, Diana La Monte prepares to live out a dream that she has been picturing from her wheelchair for years.

“I haven’t touched the ocean in four years so I’m so excited,” says La Monte. “Most of our beaches in Oceanside have a big line of cobbles ad there’s no way I can walk over those.”

“That’s her barrier,” says Jon Pimlott. “There’s no way to get her down to the water and that’s where I come in.”

Jon Pimlott heard about Diana’s wish six months ago, when he was volunteering with Access Oceanside. The Dad of two who loves to tinker and invent in his garage says he couldn’t forget her story.

So after months of working away on it, he came up with a solution. A stroller built out of spare bike parts and lumber to carry the wheelchair to the water’s edge so Diana and anyone unable to walk there on their own can feel the exhilaration and joy where the ocean meets the sand.

“I love the ocean yes,” says La Monte.

So he’s taking Diana for her first beach walk in four years.

“Yeah it’s going to be special. I think it’s going to be one of those moments,” says Pimlott. “Yeah I’m excited to see how she reacts.”

Pushed on by four eager volunteers, Diana’s eyes grow wider as for the first time in years she rolls onto the beach. 

“Look at that my feet are in the sand,” says Lamont. Then with Pimlott holding one arm and her other on a cane, she goes for the water that she’s been unable to touch for too long. 

“A very special day in Parksville,” says Pimlott.

Thrilled by the experience of seeing Diana touch the surf for the first time, these advocates for access hope the cart will be able to help the many more like her in this aging community. People who know what they’re missing but till now could only watch others enjoy it from a distance.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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