Neighbors upgrade South Jordan man's motorized wheelchair
Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News
SOUTH JORDAN — As soon as he wakes up, Tony Brewster can't wait to get outside and go.
"We're just trying to keep up with him,” said his father, Chip Brewster.
His parents understand how important it is to give him freedom, but you can't blame them for being concerned at first.
Tony Brewster, who is 30 years old, has cerebral palsy.
“When he was born that evening, he stopped breathing in the nursery. He stopped breathing for about 10 minutes. It caused damage to his brain that affects his muscle control,” his father explained.
Even though Tony Brewster has no control of his muscles, he is very intelligent.
He understands everything that is being said, smiles when someone says something funny and talks to people by typing on his computer keypad, which then produces a robotic voice speaking what he writes.
"It means a lot that people really care about me,” he said using his computer.
His mother, Janiene Brewster, says she is proud of how far her son has come, especially with the number of friends he has made.
“He keeps in touch with a lot of them through email,” she said. “I’ll go to Costco and people will say, ‘Is that your son? I see him walking around the neighborhood.'"
Tony Brewster uses his motorized wheelchair to get around. He takes his dog, Buck, who is tied to a leash connected to his wheelchair. Buck is super protective of Brewster and barks whenever somebody gets too close.
“He doesn't think of himself as (someone) with a disability. He never really has done that. He always just says, 'I can do it,'” said Janiene Brewster.
When he is home, he’s often on his computer taking college classes.
"He's very brilliant. He's taking college classes in calculus and chemistry and done a lot of classes and done very well,” said his father.
However, outside is where Brewster prefers to be.
Almost every day, he visits Soda Row in his Daybreak neighborhood, where the owner of the bakery will give him cookies and treats for Buck.
Buck seems to know when they’re close to the bakery because he will start pulling Brewster in that direction.
After the bakery, he visits The Break, a bar and grill restaurant where the owner gives Buck some bacon.
"Oh yeah. We love Buck. You bet,” said Bam Peck, the restaurant's owner.
Peck has known Tony Brewster for about two years.
“He rolls by all the time. I remember I was out on the patio with some friends, and we would just watch Tony roll around several times past here,” Peck said.
He and Tony Brewster have gotten to know each other pretty well.
"I just fell in love with Tony,” said Peck. “We became buds."
So recently, Peck and some friends got together and did something for Brewster he has always wanted.
They tricked out his wheelchair.
They painted it, got some fenders for his wheels, installed glowing lights underneath. And maybe the coolest thing of all, they installed speakers behind his chair.
Brewster loves music.
“We stole his chair for about two weeks, with their permission, and when we brought it back, it got me. When we brought that chair out, the smile on his face was enough. It was beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye,” Peck said.
Now, he is like all the other kids in his neighborhood, listening to music while going down the street.
"I need my speakers, but the thoughtfulness of these people is what really surprised me,” Brewster said, using his computer.
“He absolutely loves it,” Chip Brewster said, “and I think it makes him feel good to just get outside, enjoy his music and have some freedom.”
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