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VENTURA : Lifeguards Seek Help to Buy a 3rd Wheelchair

Five-year-old Allegra Petrowsky smiled as she rode in the beach wheelchair Tuesday, with her 2-year-old sister, Natalie, bouncing beside her.

Mom Cherie pushed them along the sand at Harbor Cove Beach across from Ventura Harbor, sometimes running at her daughters’ urging, sometimes letting the chair splash a few inches into the surf.

“More,” Allegra said when her tired mother would stop.

It was the first time Allegra, who has cerebral palsy and cannot walk, had used the beach wheelchair, and her mother plans to bring her back for more.

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“I was running behind her pushing, and she kept telling me she wanted more,” said Cherie Petrowsky of Camarillo. “But it was worth it for the smiles on their faces.”

The beach wheelchair, which has a seat and back made of heavy blue nylon netting and large orange plastic wheels that allow it to glide over the sand, is one of two in Ventura.

The other, which has been broken for about a month, is kept at the large snack bar and rental area at San Buenaventura State Beach. Both chairs are owned by the state Department of Parks and Recreation and were purchased with private donations.

State lifeguards, who maintain and lend out the chairs at no charge, would like to raise enough funds to buy another of the $800 chairs.

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“We want to put another one near the pier,” said lifeguard Craig Sap.

They would also like to raise a little extra to keep spare parts on hand for faster repairs.

As no state money is allocated for the chairs, the lifeguards’ association sold T-shirts to raise the $160 necessary to order a new wheel assembly for the broken chair. Lifeguards are now awaiting the arrival of parts from the Florida manufacturer.

Petrowsky said she is delighted to know that the city will soon have two wheelchairs to offer children and adults who might not otherwise be able to get to the water’s edge.

“The chair made it a lot more fun for Allegra,” she said. “We were able to crash into the water and make a big splash. She liked that a lot.”

Information about the chairs or to donate to a chair fund call 648-3321.


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