Brother and sister, Jack Betts and Joan Sullivan, enjoy the beach with the help of specially designed wheelchairs, pushed by Lynne Johnson and Ryan Sullivan, that the Cayucos Lioness Club makes available to the public. Photos by Dean Sullivan
The seashore can be fun and therapeutic, but, for some, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reach. The Cayucos Lioness Club provides the use of beach wheelchairs, known as surf chairs, that allow people with limited mobility the chance to stick their feet in the water and toes in the sand.
“The availability of these chairs has helped many get on the beach when they thought they would never be able to do that again,” said Kathy Boyte, chairperson for the Club’s surf chair project.
Boyte said Amp Surf, an organization dedicated to adaptive surfing, schools taking beach field trips, grandparents attending weddings, disabled children, elderly people and folks who have recently had foot or leg surgery have utilized the chairs.
“It is such a great feeling to hear the happiness in people’s voices when they return from the beach,” she said.
Brother and sister, Jack Betts, 93, and Joan Sullivan, 96, recently enjoyed the beach wheelchairs on an outing with family.
“It was fun to feel the sand between my toes and have the water rush up and get my slacks wet,” Sullivan said. “It reminded me of the many days I sat at the water’s edge in Miami Beach letting the tide come up to greet me.”
Beach access wheelchairs have been available for use on Cayucos Beach since the early 1990s when lifeguards checked them out to beachgoers in the summer months. In 1995, the Cayucos Lioness Club took over, added an additional chair and made them available year round with some exceptions such as weather, the big Fourth of July celebration on the beach and the condition of the ramp that leads to the sand.
The Club could use some help with the ramp.
“The small ramp on the beach where it is possible to get the chairs onto the beach has had a severe erosion problem,” Boyte said.
Currently there is a volunteer who keeps the sand built up, but Boyte said government agencies have thus far stymied installing a permanent ramp.
Readers should be aware that the chairs are manual and require someone to push them though the soft sand, which can be physically demanding, but worth the effort.
“I definitely would recommend getting in that water regardless of how you got there,” Betts said. “The ocean can be great therapy for anyone regardless of age. It’s hypnotic. I loved walking on the sand and in the water — great fun.”
The chairs are free to use, but require an ID to check out. The Cayucos Lioness will also store traditional wheelchairs in a locked shed while folks enjoy the beach.
For more information about chair availability or to make a donation for repairs and replacement, call 805-995-3054.
The Cayucos Lioness Club welcomes civic-minded woman to join the organization. They participate in fundraising efforts for community betterment projects and charitable causes including scholarships for college, camp, music and art; provide mutt mitts and pick-up of associated trash receptacles; host the Easter Dog Parade; and finically support multiple projects and organizations.
Interested women need to be sponsored by a current member. To start the ball rolling, go to Cayucoslionessclub.org and click on Join Our Club.