Joanne McNabb is a Happy Wheeler.
She is one of about three dozen Manteca adults with various disabilities that make it difficult for them to get around that belong to the informal group, known as the Happy Wheelers. Most members use wheelchairs and scooters to get around.
Since the organization was formed in 1992 it has served as an outreach to share information resources, and experiences to help and encourage each other.
The Happy Wheelers are staging a 24th anniversary BBQ on Saturday, Aug. 20, at noon at the United Lutheran Church social hall at 949 Northgate Drive. Besides current members McNabb said they are encouraging family and friends as well as others that want to find out more about the groups to attend. She can be contacted at 825.8510. It is a potluck luncheon although the group’s treasury will cover the cost of hot dogs, hamburgers, and buns.
Sandra Graham of the Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living will be at the meeting to share information on services and goods available to the disabled in the area at no ow low cost.
There is no cost to join, just an expectation that you will protect, befriend and look out for your fellow Wheeler.
The Wheelers host an annual garage sale on the second Saturday in May to help cover their expenses, such as the monthly newsletter.
They also work with the city about the concerns and needs of the handicapped so they can be addressed in a timely manner. Their goal is to make sure those confined to wheelchairs can stay active in the community.
The Happy Wheelers support group was started in 1992 by Martha Nelson, who was the wife of the pastor of the United Lutheran Church. She had been one of the first figure skaters in the Ice Capades. She suffered from debilitating arthritis and had been using a scooter for many years.
Her husband had devised ingenious ways to make it easier for her to accomplish her daily household chores.
Their congregation included several individuals who were already using wheelchairs and such including a couple of young men injured in industrial and automotive accidents.
Nelson invited those and others to join an informal support group.
Over the years there have been as many as 100 Happy Wheelers at any given time and as few as 12.
They participate in Manteca parades. They have also played key roles in getting the city to provide sidewalks for safer accessibility to the Kaiser Clinic on West Yosemite Avenue and the Social Security office on Commerce Drive.