Going to the grocery store is no small chore for Melody Leach.
Her 2-year-old daughter, Beatrice — who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 8-months-old — doesn’t fit comfortably into a typical shopping cart.
“One of her hips has dislocated so she has a hard time sitting on that surface,” Leach, of Loveland, Colo., told NBC affiliate KUSA. “She’s outgrown her stroller at this point, so I put her in her wheelchair and I take her in the store and I can grab a basket, and try to push this with one hand as I carry the basket.”
The balancing act is a physical strain for Leach, but her daughter struggles as well. Beatrice can’t sit in her wheelchair for too long, her mother said, because the physical demand of being in the chair has caused seizures in the past.
Born prematurely at 33 weeks, Beatrice suffered from bleeding in her brain when she was born. Today, the little girl has other challenges, the kind that Leach must consider whether she’s at home or running errands outside the house.
“She can’t see very well and she can’t crawl, she can’t talk yet, and she’s legally blind,” Leach, who quit her engineering job to stay home and care for her daughter, told KUSA.
It takes Leach an hour to complete a grocery trip, so she’s been forced to choose between making multiple, short trips to the store or hiring a nurses aide to babysit her daughter while she buys groceries, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.
After sharing her challenge with Mike Myers, an assistant manager at Loveland King Soopers, six weeks ago the grocery store purchased a special cart with an extra-large child’s seat that faces the person pushing the cart, according to the Reporter-Herald. Dubbed “Beatrice’s Cart,” the seat includes a five-point harness to keep the toddler secure, the paper reported.
Myers told the paper that while growing up, he had a friend whose brother had cerebral palsy. As a father, he told KUSA, he couldn’t imagine facing Leach’s struggle each time he needed to buy groceries.
“It just makes the shopping experience better for this one shopper in particular and anyone who has special needs and needs that cart,” he told the Reporter-Herald. “Now, it’s available for them.”
Myers told the Reporter-Herald that employees plan to decorate the cart for the holidays. The cart will be available for other parents of children with special needs, as well.
The grocery store staff presented Beatrice with her new shopping cart on Thursday, but not before they decorated it with pink ribbons, balloons and a sign covered in stickers that said “Beatrice’s Cart.”
The little girl broke into a big smile upon seeing her new ride. Her mother was all smiles, too, as the pair were surrounded by grocery store employees, who broke into applause.
“Oh my gosh!” Leach said, according to KUSA. “This’ll fit her forever.”
“It’s like a princess wagon,” she added.
Leach told the Reporter-Herald that the cart will help her daughter relax thanks to the extra support it provides.
Overwhelmed by the gesture, Leach told KUSA that the store’s staff didn’t have to care. She’s just a single shopper from a single family, she noted, as she shook her head in disbelief, struggling to hold back grateful tears.
“It’s really nice,” she said.
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) October 16, 2015
— Corky Scholl (@CorkyScholl) October 16, 2015
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