NORTH CAPE MAY – Lower Cape May Regional High School graduate Shaheed Bashir can leave his home without the assistance of family members thanks to the combined efforts of fellow students and the community.
The custom-built wheelchair ramp allows Bashir, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 2, to move independently in and out of his home.
Teacher Jan Randle was looking for a community service project for the French Honor Society when she thought of Bashir.
“I remember seeing Shaheed in an electric wheelchair last year,” Randle said. “I didn’t even know his name, but I thought, ‘What can we do that’s right here, that’s local?’ and I went to the school nurse and she contacted the family. They said they really needed a ramp. I thought, ‘This is it.’”
Throughout the school year, students sold water bottles and paper hearts to raise the estimated $2,000 for supplies. The Home Depot donated half of the materials while the Cape May Elks contributed the remaining funds. Several builders offered to construct the ramp, but Sheehan Construction was ultimately chosen based on its expertise in building handicap-accessible ramps.
“This is community service at its best,” said Randle. “Schools and local businesses working together to help one of our own.”
The generosity of the community did not stop with the ramp. Teachers also donated an electric wheelchair and transportation rack. Country Garage in Cape May installed the rack onto the family’s van at no cost.
“Everybody has been so great,” said Jackie Bashir, Shaheed’s mother. “We’re so grateful to everybody. This helps Shaheed to become more independent, and it also helps me not having to carry him in and out of the house.”
Bashir plans to attend Atlantic Cape Community College under NJ STARS, an initiative that covers tuition costs for students graduating in the top 15 percent of their high school class.