Flagler Beach rolls out beach wheelchairs

By Brittany Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, July 09, 2017, 8:51 PM EDT

A Flagler County woman is pushing for easier access to the beach for people who are disabled.

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And, thanks to some of her work, Flagler Beach has already made improvements.

However, LouLou Goodell is still hoping for more changes along the coast.

It's not easy trying to get out onto the beach in a wheelchair through the sand. Goodell pushed for two big rubber wheelchairs.

"If you're in a regular wheelchair you can just get down to the sand that's it, you can't go any further you need the proper wheelchair," said she said.

Goodell's late brother and sister were wheelchair-bound due to a birth defect.

That’s why she decided to help advocate for beach wheelchairs—so everyone could have a chance to enjoy the sand and sun.

"It was very difficult when we couldn't bring him to the beach with us then after moving here three years ago,” Goodell said. “I'm at the beach all the time and it's just heartbreaking to see people that are sitting at the board walk and they can't get down."

Goodell said she hopes signs are added to the handicap parking spots so people can see that beach wheelchairs are available.

"It's all about seeing things because a lot of times, if you put up a flyer people don't stop to read any things, it's the picture or the actual beach wheelchair," said Goodell.

The chairs cost about $1,220 each.

Fundraising helped purchase two of the wheelchairs, and now Flagler Beach has a total of three chairs.

Several organizations are helping with the initiative, including Flagler's Kiwanis Club. Goodell said now Florida Hospital Flagler is pledging to match donations it receives.

City manager Larry Newsom said leaders are working with Goodell's Hilton Bright Hearted committee to do more for the disabled, including getting a new wheel chair raft to help people get into the water.

Newsom said they have added new ADA benches at the pier.

But Goodell's goal is to eventually see these wheelchairs at every beach along the coast.

"If we can help one person that's what it's all about helping other people," she said. 

The beach wheelchairs and the future wheelchair raft will be stored on the pier.

The wheelchairs are free to check out at the bait shop and people have to leave their driver's license.

Gamble Rogers State Park and Daytona Beach are also considering adding the special wheelchairs.