Your Stories: Disabled Syracuse man gets new wheelchair

A disabled Syracuse man gets a new wheelchair after a local family sees his story on NewsChannel 9.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Some very good news came Saturday for a disabled Syracuse man who says The Scooter Store left him stranded after closing its doors last September.

On Friday, NewsChannel 9 introduced you to John Burns, a double amputee who depends on his motorized wheelchair to get around.

That chair was falling apart and for several months, he was having trouble finding someone to help him fix it.

But Saturday night, that all changed.

After his story aired on NewsChannel 9, several people called and e-mailed offering to help Burns. The O'Hara family of Oneida even made the trip to Syracuse to give Burns a new electric wheelchair.

"The guy looked like he could use a new scooter and we thought it would be a good thing," said Charlie O'Hara, who gave an electric wheelchair to Burns.

Burns said he is forever grateful for the gift.

"It's one of the best days of my life. When they just walked up, here we are. It blew me away," said Burns.

O'Hara's father died in January, leaving behind the new electric wheelchair. The family says this is what their father would want.

"I'm sure our dad's pretty happy john has a new chair and the chair has a new home with John," said Lorie Leworthy.

"Our father was a giving guy and if someone was in need, he'd give them help. I'm in a position where I can help this guy so I thought I'd do it," said O'Hara.

Burns said the new chair will make his life much easier.

"I can use it to do my grocery shopping, get around a lot better now and I don't have to worry about this one conking out in the street. With this new chair, it's a real life saver now," said Burns.

Burns got his former electric wheelchair from The Scooter Store in 2009. Over the years it's become barely functional. When the company went out of business following a federal investigation believed to be related to Medicare and Medicaid fraud, Burns said no one would help repair or replace the chair.

He wasn't the only person who experienced this. People who own electric wheelchairs from The Scooter Store may be in a similar position. NewsChannel 9 spoke with a Medicare spokesperson and she says if you're having problems, you need to find a contracted provider that serves our area.

A list of contracted providers is available on their website.

You can also receive assistance by calling 1-800-Medicare.

Under Medicare's guidelines, replacement for electric wheelchairs is covered after five years of use. But if you're under the five years, like Burns, there are no guarantees.
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