On Tuesday, July 4th, Edith Sachro did something she has done for many years – she went to Walmart, Great Northern Rd. to pick up a few things on her shopping list. For Edith, at the age of 83 yrs., shopping at Walmart allows her to access one of the motorized cart/wheelchairs she absolutely requires to tackle a store the size of Walmart.
Edith Sachro is a Polio survivor. When she was a youngster – at age 3 years – she contracted Polio. Edith spent much of her young life in and out of hospitals and medical treatment facilities.
‘Polio is a very contagious infection that is caused by the poliovirus. Thanks to immunization, Canada has been polio free for the last 20 years. But before the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, thousands of Canadian children were affected. Polio crippled tens of thousands of Canadians until the vaccine was introduced. It used to be called “infantile paralysis” or “the crippler”; because it could permanently damage nerve cells that control muscles.’ (phac-aspc.gc.ca)
In the early afternoon, July 4th, Edith Sachro entered Walmart with her specially designed and built walker – a walker tailored to her specific needs. Edith wears a brace that runs the length of her right leg. The walker she uses has wheels designed for ‘sturdiness’ to aid in balance and mobility – and has been fitted to her specific body type. Due to polio, Edith’s entire right side – her hip and leg – are aided by a brace.
Her walker is her life-line to independence both inside and outside her home. Without her walker, Edith has been left with a significant challenge to move through her day in the same way she is used to doing. Edith’s walker is valued at over $500.00, but for Edith it is much more than that. Her walker is what she uses for every single step she takes.
On the day in question, two of the motorized carts at Walmart were out of order. Edith waited for a period of time for one to become available, and when one eventually did, she handed off her walker to a store employee at Walmart, and it was placed near Customer Service. This is something Edith has done many times at Walmart.
On July 4th, however, when she was ready to leave Walmart, her walker was gone. Employees at Walmart searched the store and parking lot for it, in the hopes that someone may have mistaken the walker as part of a fleet of Walmart assistive devices available to shoppers. This however, was not the case, and Edith’s walker, was in fact, stolen.
Walmart employees working the afternoon of July 4th told Edith that they are not responsible for watching out for walkers left near the front of the store. They assisted Edith in getting to her car, and said they would file a report.
At age 83, Edith did not expect this to happen to her. Edith is a fiercely independent woman who continues to drive, and had only just returned from driving herself to a family get together at Bass Lake. Everything she does and everywhere she goes, Edith relies on the use of her custom made walker.
Edith reached out to her niece Charlotte Brason for help, and was met at home by Charlotte, who helped her into the house.
“My aunt can’t walk five feet without the use of her walker.” shared Charlotte Brason in an interview with Saultonline. “She can’t even go out of the house without her walker. She can fall very easily. And if she falls, it is serious.”
Charlotte Brason, who happens to have worked in private investigations and loss prevention, went up to Walmart to try and ascertain the circumstances and any potential video. One of the men in security named Todd, who Charlotte stated was very accommodating, worked with her to try and pin-point the exact time Edith went into Walmart, which they found. It was at 1:34 pm.
Video surveillance, which was turned over to the Sault Police Services the next morning by Walmart security, shows two women coming in together to Walmart without a walker, and one of them leaving with a walker. A police report has been made and there is now an ongoing investigation into the stolen walker.
Sault Police Services, Constable Darin Rossetto confirmed with saultonline that they are in possession of Walmart store video surveillance from the afternoon of July 4th, 2017, and are working on a potential ‘Crimestoppers’ segment to aid in the recovery of the walker.
Edith could not provide saultonline with a picture of her walker, however one of the distinguishing characteristics is that it has unique wheels that are wider than ordinary walker wheels but smaller in circumference – thus aiding in balance for her mobility. The walker is blue in colour, and is not large.
Edith doesn’t have a back-up walker tailored to her specific needs, but through family and friends, they have managed to get her a spare for the time being. Through government funding, Edith was able to purchase the custom built walker in 2015 – however this funding is only available every 5 years.
“I fell about a year and half ago, and I am very afraid of falling. If I take my brace off – my leg is useless.” shared Edith. “I sure didn’t expect this to happen to me at my age. Until I was about 15 years old, I couldn’t attend school regularly because of being in and out of hospitals. I got married and had three children. They all have strong healthy legs.” she said.
“I really value my independence – getting places on my own. I’ll be darned if someone is going to take away my independence. My walker was so easy to fold down – I could get in and out of my car easily. The weight was just right for me to lift. At night, it was right there beside me if I needed to get up in the middle of the night. My walker was everything to me. It was an emotional crutch for me.”
“I’m hoping that something good can come out of all of this.” she said. “Perhaps Walmart will look at providing a designated space for walkers for people who use the motorized carts available inside the store. I mean – we have to leave our walkers somewhere. It never dawned on me that my walker could be stolen. I thought it was perfectly safe where it was. I’ve shopped at Walmart hundreds of times and never had a problem.”
Charlotte Brason and Edith Sachro are hoping that whoever took the walker will return it to Walmart, or drop it off at the police station.