Three new beach wheelchairs have been added to the shorelline — just in time for the busy summer months. The chairs, which have oversized wheels to make it easier to travel over sand, are available for free at lifeguard towers in La Jolla Shores, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach. Users may need to leave a driver’s license or photo ID.
Amelia Opean, a paraplegic since a devastating car accident when she was 15 years old, started the push for the new wheelchairs. An avid ocean swimmer, Opean was having a hard time reaching the water because the beach wheelchair at La Jolla Shores was out of commission.
“Without the chair, my swim group had to recruit help on the beach to get me to the water or to ask the lifeguards, who, on occasion, drove me down to the shoreline,” Opean said.
Never one to be deterred, Opean started a fundraising drive to repair the wheelchair and the La Jolla Shores Surfing Association matched the money she raised.
To ensure there is always a wheelchair at the beach, Councilmember Sherri Lightner partnered with Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Todd Gloria to donate funds out of their office budgets to purchase three additional chairs.