Shellington Family Donates Surf Chair
For most people the prospect of a trip to the beach brings images of running through the sand and splashing into crashing ocean waves. Dan Shellington fit that image until the age of 22, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves).
Dan Shellington did not let multiple sclerosis (MS) slow him down initially. For 26 years he taught fourth grade in the Lower Merion School District. Dan even taught from his wheel chair; kids loved him. He loved the Phillies and anything related to Penn State. Dan also loved going to the beach, and summertime meant trips to Cape May.
Dan and his family did not let his MS stop him from getting to the beach. “In the early years, lifeguards or family members would help Dan onto the beach and from his wheel chair to surf chairs designed to transit the beach,” said Barbara Shellington, Dan’s wife. “As his MS progressed we would bring a Hoyer Lift to aid the transfer process,” Shellington said.
Dan Shellington died in February of this year after a 42-year battle with his disease. In lieu of flowers, his obituary read, his widow Barbara asked for donations to a fund to purchase a more sophisticated surf chair, one that provided more support and allowed ocean access. That chair was donated last Friday to the Cape May City Lifeguard Headquarters on Grant Street. The gift was in Dan Shellington’s memory.
More Handicapped Access Surf Chairs
“Cape May now has more surf chairs than any city from here to Brigantine,” said Lifeguard Captain Geoff Rife. “It gives our guards a deep sense of pride being able to help a handicap ped person onto the beach and into the ocean,” Rife said. “To see the smiles on people and their families is worth it,” he continued. Many Cape May beaches have surf chairs available by asking life guards.
For many years, the Shellingtons rented Kathleen Kahlau’s house on 6th avenue in West Cape May. “The house is constructed to aid persons with disabilities,” Kahlau said.
Meghan Fogarty created a crowd-sourcing page after her uncle’s death to help fund the chair purchased in his honor. Together with Barbara Shellington they raised over $5000.00, and $3200.00 was used to purchase a specially designed chair from ABBA Medical, located in the Villas section of Lower Township. The chair has balloon wheels to help aid movement over the sand.
The Shellingtons plan to donate an additional $2000.00 to Cape May City Council to be spent extending walkways onto the beach. “It takes a village to get a disabled person onto the beach,” Barbara Shellington said. “We wanted to allow people in wheel chairs to take advantage of this chair in Dan’s honor.”