A simple act of kindness

  • Tracy Jo Taylor and her 10-year-old daughter, Ava, try out the new Caroline’s Cart at KTA Waimea on Thursday. Ava’s twin brother, Arthur, who also has nemaline myopathy but is impacted less than his sister, walks alongside his mom. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)
    Tracy Jo Taylor and her 10-year-old daughter, Ava, try out the new Caroline’s Cart at KTA Waimea on Thursday. Ava’s twin brother, Arthur, who also has nemaline myopathy but is impacted less than his sister, walks alongside his mom. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

WAIMEA — Waimea is known for its small-town feel and friendly neighbors. Stopping traffic to wave another driver onto Kawaihae Road happens daily, as well as other small acts of kindness.

But one resident took the good deed up a notch. On Tuesday, Caroline’s Cart was added as a new form of transportation for KTA Waimea shoppers that makes maneuvering special needs children down the aisles much easier.

Named after their daughter, Caroline, Drew Ann and David Long of Alabama came up with the idea to help their family, other parents and caregivers.

“Every family has to grocery shop, often several times a week. If you have a child with a disability, it really makes it very burdensome to maneuver a wheelchair and a grocery cart simultaneously,” Drew Ann said.

She founded Parent Solution Group, LLC in 2008, designed the cart, applied for a patent and worked with legal and business professionals to bring the cart to market. The idea has ballooned outside of their hometown and can be found now in many other stores across the country. Drew Ann makes no profit from cart sales, and money generated above cost is donated to Easter Seals, whose logo can be spotted on the cart — the only consumer product they endorse.

Target has been testing the product in stores since February 2015, and beginning March 19 Caroline Carts will be rolling into the vast majority of their stores nationwide.

Closer to home, providing the cart for shoppers in Waimea started with resident Greg Green in late October, after one of his wife’s roller derby friends posted a similar challenge on Facebook.

“Most times Ava is too tired/sore to walk next to me in the grocery store so I typically throw her into the cart itself but she’s getting too big. We need this in Waimea, one at KTA and Foodland,” Tracey Jo Taylor said.

Recognizing her struggles as a single mom with two children fighting nemaline myopathy, Green began thinking of ways to make this simple dream a reality.

“The cart is made in North Carolina and costs $850. Shipping is expensive to Hawaii as it’s shipped fully assembled,” he said. “I work at Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and our outreach manager Mary Beth Laycheck suggested I ask Roberta Chu, the senior VP & manager of Bank of Hawaii, Commercial Banking, for guidance in fundraising. Roberta’s community involvement, coupled with her entrepreneurial and philanthropic involvement, were thought to be a valuable asset to the project.”

Chu forwarded the idea to Toby Tanaguchi, KTA’s president, in November and he purchased the cart in December for the Waimea store. He said it is their intention to continue to bring items such as this to all KTA locations in the future.

“KTA was the only store contacted but perhaps Foodland will follow suit,” Green said.

The cart now sits at KTA’s front entrance where anyone with special needs can find it.

“It’s pretty cool that a person can just ask the question, throw the idea out there and watch it happen,” Green said. “Tracy Jo would never ask for help, so it’s up to us as community members and business leaders to see these little things that can make such a difference.”

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