Fla. hero rewarded with car to replace his wheelchair

November 24, 1995|By KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Ron Beaudreault, a 34-year-old paraplegic, doesn't hesitate to speak up, or act, when he sees something wrong.

About a year ago, Mr. Beaudreault pursued a purse snatcher and his getaway driver until police arrived and arrested the thieves.

"I was really upset, angry that they took advantage of that woman," said Mr. Beaudreault, who was paralyzed in a car crash 15 years ago. "I took off chasing them. At times I was going about 80 miles an hour."

Years ago, when Mr. Beaudreault couldn't afford to outfit a car with hand controls, he learned to steer with one hand while working the pedals with a stick.

That worked just fine until his old Toyota fell apart. For months now, his only transportation has been a chrome wheelchair.

A couple of local businessmen learned of his heroics -- and his lack of transportation -- and decided to take action.

So minutes before Mr. Beaudreault was honored for bravery this week by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, he was presented with a new set of wheels: a shiny white 1989 Mazda MX6 with a big red bow on the hood.

And he won't need a stick -- the car is outfitted with hand controls.

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