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Excelsior Springs mom makes push for inclusivity

January 1, 2018 – For some parents, taking their kids to the store is a hassle. For others, though, it’s a privilege and a physical impossibility.

Garrett Lapee, 9, is unable to accompany his mom to the store. For mom Bonnie, bringing Garrett on errands presents physical challenges that she’s no longer able to overcome as Garrett, or “G,” as he is affectionately known as, grows.

G has autism, which causes him to have motor control issues. He’s also been known to bolt, Bonnie explained. This becomes a safety issue, as he has run into parking lots before. And now that he is 9, Bonnie is unable to lift him into carts. Furthermore, G is now able to get out of them on his own.

“It’s no longer safe to take my own child shopping,” Lapee said. Shopping, she added, is something G really enjoys. He may not be verbal, but he likes to interact with people. “He wants to be part of his community,” Lapee said, “just like any other kid. And Excelsior Springs is his community. He needs to know the people here, and they need to know him.”

Several years ago, she contacted local stores, telling them about something called Caroline’s Cart. These are carts specially designed to allow caregivers of the disabled to take a special needs individual through a store while shopping, without dealing with the impossible task of dealing with a wheelchair, or a special needs stroller, while attempting to push a shopping cart at the same time.

She was told no. Because of that, she had to coordinate her shopping to coincide with G being in school. And G was no longer able to engage in an activity he loved. “G is a total foodie,” Lapee said. “And he loves picking out his own food.” But it just wasn’t safe to take him with her anymore.

Recently, Lapee decided to try one more time. “I was just frustrated, because I couldn’t take my son with me.” And this time, when she called Walmart, she got a different answer.

“They said ‘yes,’” Lapee said. Under new management, the local Walmart put in a request for a Caroline’s Cart, and expect it to be delivered in the New Year.

“With one decision, the store is changing the quality of my kid’s life, and that’s huge,” Lapee said.

She then reached out to Price Chopper one last time, and that store will also be putting in a request for the purchase of a Caroline’s Cart. The timeline for this second cart has not been released, but Lapee says that the process has been put in motion.

“I have to be an advocate for my son,” Lapee said. Through her push for inclusivity for her own child, Lapee has now achieved accessibility for others with special needs within our community.

UPDATE: Both Price Chopper and Walmart of Excelsior Springs have received their Caroline’s Carts.

By Samantha Kilgore • kimeberely@leaderpress.com

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3 Responses to Excelsior Springs mom makes push for inclusivity

  1. Melissa Leezer Reply

    January 1, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    My sister is the best.. God has chosen tge best mom for G. She is wonderful.. This journey she has to take im not for sure i could handle it.. But she does it like a champ.. Thank you walmart and price chopper.. I no she is one happy mom..

  2. John Pfannenstiel Reply

    January 2, 2018 at 9:34 am

    This is a really good thing. The first and only time I’ve seen one is at the Hy-Vee in Liberty, MO. Both of my children are autistic, but it is the youngest one that needs it the most since he has a tendency to run off. I do wish more stores would take the effort to have the Caroline’s Cart available for use.

    • Diane V Reply

      March 31, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Never hurts to ask your local store to see if they will get one!

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