Mobility may become shutdown victim

Oct. 13, 2013 @ 07:35 PM

The government shutdown may threaten an aspect of life that’s critical to Randall Brewer, but one that most people take for granted — his mobility.
Disabled and in a wheelchair since a vicious mugging 15 years ago, Brewer relies on motorized wheels to negotiate around his modest residence in south High Point. Since he’s on a limited income through his full disability, the 57-year-old former bartender and waiter receives assistance with the batteries that power his wheelchair.
But that assistance comes through an agency that been choked off since the first of October because of the political logjam in the nation’s capital, he said.
“The offices I go through to get a wheelchair battery are closed,” Brewer told The High Point Enterprise. “I have to recharge the battery three or four times a day.”
If the agency that assists Brewer were in full operation, a replacement battery would be brought to his home and a technician would install it. If his battery wears out completely while the shutdown is in place, it would cost about $180 up front to replace it, said Brewer, who grew up in High Point through his adolescent years before moving with his family.
“I don’t have the $180 to initially get it. I’m on full disability. My Social Security disability check is $660 a month before I pay anything,” Brewer said.
Brewer’s life has spiralled to this point because of an awful twist of fate while he was living and working in Atlanta. One Saturday evening 15 years ago, Brewer was mugged. He acknowledges that he had been drinking alcoholic beverages at a nightclub the evening of his attack.
“We went out back of that bar. I didn’t know these people. As soon as we got someplace that was dark, that’s when they jumped me,” he said. “They beat me so hard that my brain was bleeding.”
His attackers took $150, Brewer’s wallet and even the shoes off his feet, he said. Brewer was listed as a John Doe by law enforcement authorities for two days since his wallet and identification were stolen.
He went into a coma from the assault. In the wake of his attack, he’s endured a barrage of health problems and undergone surgeries during a period of years. 
“I can’t even remember them all,” he said.
Brewer said that he’s raising his current plight not to generate personal sympathy for him, but to illustrate how the shutdown could derail the day-to-day lives of the disabled.
“The reason I am making such a hoopla about this is because I want the government to see what this shutdown is causing to happen to the disabled population of North Carolina,” he said. “I’m not the only one, and it’s not all about me. But if I have to be the one to raise the hell, then so be it.”

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528