Mays Landing man awarded for helping Pleasantville cerebral palsy student
The Current of Pleasantville - 5/3/2017
PLEASANTVILLE - If you ask Jim Burke, of Mays Landing, about his December $517Uber ride to Atlantic City, he might just tell you it was the best money he has ever spent.
That's because Uber driver and substitute teacher Yorel Browne told Burke a story about how North Main Street Elementary School preschool teacher Amy Cutler was raising money to buy an Upsee mobility device for a student with cerebral palsy.
Cutler wanted it for Luis Tamarez, 5, who has limited movement from the waist down. The Upsee harness attaches the wearer to the legs of an adult.
Burke, 49, listened to Browne and immediately wanted to help.
"I think it was $517 and some change," said Burke, who owns Mays Landing-based J.B. HVAC Inc., a seven-man heating and air-conditioning company. "The Uber ride was $17."
He contacted Cutler and told her she could take down her crowdfunding account because he would pay for the device.
While wearing the device, which takes about five minutes to put on, Luis can simulate and feel what it's like to stand up and walk.
On May 2, Luis wore the device at school.
"I love it," Luis said as he walked around on the legs and feet of Collins Days, his one-on-one counselor.
Nearby, his stepfather, Argenis Borbon, and mother, Esmarlin Nunez, watched with smiles on their faces as Luis slowly moved around the front of the classroom.
Then he pointed to Burke, who was the classroom's special guest.
Burke had taken off work Jan. 5 to watch Luis use the Upsee for the first time. He had taken off May 2 to see Luis walk again. But this time, something was different.
Rita Mikel, a representative of Mosaic Sales Solutions out of Dallas, had heard Luis' story. She flew out to award Burke one of four Making a Difference awards the company hands out.
"It's just a really awesome thing you did," Mikel said. "It's just one of the stories that truly stood out."
"I just wanted to help," Burke said.