Project creates hillside accessibility
By Scott Bellile
When the Larsen-Winchester Lions Club assembled a wheelchair ramp at a New London area home last week, club members set a record for their chapter.
“This is pretty much the longest ramp we’ve ever built,” Larsen-Winchester Lion Chris Pfaendtner said.
The record-breaking volunteer build took place from Sept. 12-13 at the Rohloff residence on View Ridge Drive in the town of Liberty, about 1 mile east of Mosquito Hill Nature Center.
“The previous [record] was 100 feet,” Larsen-Winchester Lion Bruce Stowe said. “This one is going to be 125 feet approximately. That’s why we have so many people here. … Everybody wanted to work on the biggest one.”
“This project we’ve got a double crew at least,” Larsen-Winchester Lion Pete Christianson said of the dozen men who helped.
The ramp, which is more than one-third the size of a football field, will serve Pat Rohloff. She and her husband Jack have lived at W9960 View Ridge Drive since 1977.
With her house on a slope and a long uphill walk to the door, Pat Rohloff had been housebound since she stopped walking and began using a wheelchair in December, her family said.
When Pat Rohloff used a walker, it took her 20 minutes to get from the driveway to her main-level door with the help of a family member, according to her son Patrick Rohloff.
Thanks to her new wooden wheelchair ramp, Pat Rohloff said she will get outside and see the neighbors again.
“I’m excited for it,” Pat Rohloff said of her ramp. “I think it’s just marvelous that there are people out there that [took the time to help me].”
Stowe explained why the new ramp is so lengthy. The way the Rohloffs’ home is built on a hill, the living space is all stacked on top of the ground-level garage.
That makes for a considerable amount of uphill to cover to get a ramp from the driveway to the main level with the living room and kitchen.
Lions ramp builders follow Americans with Disability Act design guidelines, which call for 1 foot of ramp per 1 inch of rise, Stowe said. The Rohloffs’ yard has 102 inches of rise.
Adhering to ADA guidelines helps ensure the ramp does not create too much of an incline or decline for the wheelchair user to navigate. The designer, who declined to take credit, put in a number of turns to keep it flat.
The Larsen-Winchester Lions Club has averaged 34 wheelchair ramp builds a year since 1989. Last week’s the town of Liberty was No. 939.
The club says its volunteerism has saved ramp recipients $8 million to date.
The Larsen-Winchester Lions Club constructs ramps in communities within 25 miles of Clayton and Winchester, excluding Oshkosh.
Clayton and Winchester residents get their ramps for free while recipients outside of those communities pay half of the cost for materials. Special arrangements are made if a nonresident cannot afford it.
Christianson said with all the manpower involved across two days, the project cost probably would have hit $20,000 to be completed by paid laborers. This ramp contained more than $2,500 worth of wood.
Larsen-Winchester Lion Glen Beckman said reusing wood saves the club money. The club disassembles its ramps and takes back the materials when a household no longer uses the ramp.
While New London has a Lions Club, the chapter does not build wheelchair ramps. To request a ramp from the Larsen-Winchester Lions Club, call 920-427-3236.