After the Americans with Disabilities Act came into force in 1990, getting around busy cities became somewhat easier for the physically disabled. The main purpose of the law is to protect less able people from discrimination. But despite appropriate modifications being made at train stations, health centers and the like, there will still always be some things that are overlooked.
Monica Ward Scharrer from Mount Sinai, New York, has a son named Chris with cerebral palsy. He requires a wheelchair for mobility, and the chair’s considerable size and whopping 350-pound weight often make it hard to maneuver. Nonetheless, the pair don’t let this stop them from venturing out.
In October 2017 the mother and son set off to see the New York Rangers play arch-rivals the New York Islanders. They took the subway to the stadium and settled down in their seats to take in the game. It was a perfect outing and both mom and son were thrilled to be able to cheer on the players together. With a long history between the two teams, it was sure to be a great contest.
It was certainly an evening to remember for Monica and her disabled son. As the crowd dispersed, the pair prepared to make their way home. They intended to travel by train from Penn Station, but their plan wasn’t to run smoothly. Indeed, the evening took an unexpected turn for the worse.
Monica wasn’t prepared for what she later described on Facebook as “our worst nightmare.” The evening had gone so well initially, from travelling to the stadium through to finding their seats and watching the teams in action. But it was the ride home that was to stop the pair in their tracks.
As Chris and his doting mom left the event, they headed out onto the street. The pair needed to access the elevator that would transport them down to the railway platform below. But to their horror, they discovered the lift was broken. Panic ensued as Monica tried to work out how she would get Chris home.
Monica later described the dilemma on her Facebook page. “Elevator not working to get us from the street down to Penn Station,” she wrote. “Chris is in a 350 lb wheelchair. It’s elevator or nothing.” And it was at this moment that some much-needed help arrived – a true hero in the form of a police officer who just happened to be passing by.
“I stumbled across this beautiful human being, Officer Mears,” Monica recalled. It was only then that her and Chris’ evening was saved. Officer Stephen Mears of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department decided to stay with the troubled pair until they found a solution to their predicament.
As a result, Mears escorted Monica and Chris around the area in search of an elevator that hadn’t malfunctioned. He eventually came upon one in a department store, but he didn’t abandon the pair there. Instead, the kind cop travelled down to the Long Island Rail Road with them, making sure to lead the mom and son to the correct platform for their train. And even then he didn’t leave them.
Once the right platform was located, Mears set up a ramp for Chris’ wheelchair to be safely taken onto the train. This allowed his mom a brief but welcome respite from the physical demands that often come with assisting a disabled passenger. Monica was grateful and turned to thank Mears, but she was then met with another surprise.
Mears informed Monica that her son’s condition was not entirely new to him. In fact, prior to joining the police force, Mears had worked with disabled people – and his passion for the role had never left him. That helped to explain why he went above and beyond to help Monica and Chris in their hour of need.
Posting the heartwarming story on the Love What Matters Facebook page, grateful mom Monica relayed the moment when Mears revealed what had driven him to help her and Chris. “[He] told me he worked with the disabled for six years before he became a police officer and that is where his heart is,” she wrote.
“I can’t say enough about how wonderful this officer was to my son and I,” Monica added. “He essentially moved a mountain for us! I love this man and what he represents of humanity.” And it wasn’t just Monica who was moved by the cop’s kindness. The story was shared more than 1,300 times and touched the hearts of readers across the U.S.
Some readers even recognized the hero cop, with Kelly Michelle Zapata sharing her own experiences. “He always greets you with a warm smile to make your day & cares about how your day went,” she wrote. Another reader described Mears’ actions as “a fine example of policing.”
There is no doubt Mears saved a mom and her son from a very stressful night. They could easily have missed their train home or even run into danger as the evening drew to a close. His simple act of kindness represents the great work that officers do across the country every day.
Since that day, Monica and Chris have remained avid hockey fans and continue to watch the sport at any opportunity they get. Moreover, they’ll never forget the generosity shown to them that day and often think about the kindness of Officer Mears.
On May 17, 2018, Monica and Chris were delighted to have the chance to meet their hero again. They joined Officer Mears for a meal and reminisced about the day they’d first encountered each other. Mears’ wife Bridget Katti and their two young children also joined the reunion at the James Joyce Pub.
Once again, Monica shared the happy moment on Facebook to express her gratitude to the officer. “Many of you may remember my story of the wonderful police officer who moved mountains and helped Christopher and I in Penn Station when we were in desperate need,” she wrote. “Through the power of social media, we were able to connect again, and we had the pleasure of meeting him and his family for dinner tonight.”
“This is some of the good that comes out of technology. Bridget, thank you so much for spending the night with us. We loved meeting your family,” Monica added. Friends of both Monica and Bridget gushed over the sweet pictures of the happy little group, as well as showering Mears with praise for his good deed.
Proud wife Bridget was delighted to spend time with Chris and his mom. “Extremely grateful to finally meet you and Chris!” wrote Bridget. “We had such a wonderful time tonight. Chris could light up a room with that amazing smile and personality!! We cannot wait to get together again.” A happy ending to a wonderful story of kindness and humanity at its best.