A Waco woman is on an education crusade after saying countless drivers continue to ignore handicap parking spot rules.
This is pushing her to take action after one driver damaged the SUV ramp her wheelchair-bound daughter needs to get around.
Now she’s walking parking lots hoping to save her spot.
Six-year-old Faith Fortenberry needs at least five to ten minutes to get in and out of her mom’s custom-built van. It takes a little longer now after someone ran over her ramp.
“I waited for my mom, and she came back saying that somebody ran over our ramp. And I was like, ‘What?!,'” Faith says.
Faith’s mom Leeann says one woman showed little regard in April after damaging the mechanical plank in the parking lot at downtown Waco’s Ninfa’s Restaurant.
“Somehow didn’t see that my ramp was out, and drove up over my ramp and stayed on the ramp,” Leeann says. “Was very defensive and said she didn’t do this and she had no idea, was kind of acting like it was my fault that she was illegally parked.”
Leeann posted the interaction to Facebook and got thousands of reactions.
“When I looked at it, I thought it was like, ‘Not this bad.’ But it is bad,” Faith says.
The mom and daughter, who lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, say they encounter inconsiderate drivers every day. This makes their decision to leave the house a difficult one.
“Sometimes people park on the lines. They’re not, like, all on the lines, they’re just halfway. But I still can’t get out,” Faith says.
“At least once a week, we have something. And I’m always very nice and ask people to move or show them my daughter and tell them why it’s important to park correctly,” Leeann says.
According to a recent study:
- 74% of people have personally witnessed abuse of a handicap parking space.
- 42% did not know the striped lines next to handicap parking represented space to deploy a wheelchair ramp.
- Participants were asked to imagine another car parked so close that they weren’t able to open their door. When asked what they would do, 75% said they would enter another door/window and climb over the seat, but this is an option wheelchair users don’t have.
- 27% did not understand that handicap parking tags are issued for hidden disabilities like deafness or a knee injury that does not require a wheelchair.
Now, Leeann leaves behind stickers letting you know you’re in the way of a little girl with somewhere to go.
“I would have to stay home, just do nothing, and it wouldn’t be that fun. And we could pay for another one, but it’s like, lots of money,” Faith says.