At Lowe’s Home Improvement in Staten Island, New York, last summer, Michael Sulsona, 63, and his wife, Frieda, 60, were searching for an enclosure for their garbage can. Frieda pushed Michael down the aisles in an old wheelchair. Michael, a former Marine who’d lost both legs above the knee in the Vietnam War, was still waiting for a new wheelchair from the Department of Veterans Affairs two years after requesting it.
In the lawn-supplies aisle, a bolt on a rear wheel on the chair snapped. Sal, a store employee, saw the event and called over his coworkers David, Marcus, and Souleymane to help. (Lowe’s declined to disclose the last names of the men or make them available for interviews.)
“Sal told me, ‘You’re not leaving till it’s like new,’” says Michael.
The men went to work on the chair, staying well past closing time to dismantle and reassemble it. When it didn’t seem sturdy enough, they adjusted it further. “You guys are incredible,” Michael told them when it was done.
“It was our honor,” they replied.
Two days after Michael posted his story on a website dedicated to Staten Island news, the VA called to tell him that a new wheelchair was on the way. Hundreds of strangers had already offered to buy Michael a new wheelchair, but he asked that instead they contribute to a nonprofit foundation that helps wounded veterans.
“[The men] felt like they were just doing their job,” says Steve Salazar, a Lowe’s spokesman. But the Sulsonas think the Lowe’s employees far exceeded their responsibilities.
“These were the type of people we fought for,” says Michael.