At the corner of Route 64 and First Street in St. Charles, a woman in a red motorized scooter waits to cross the street on Wednesday after grocery shopping at the Blue Goose.
The scooter is significant. Without it Mary Homuth, 77, of St. Charles would be on crutches and carrying her groceries. It was Homuth's frequent trips to the Blue Goose on crutches for the past year that prompted some of the grocery store's employees to do something about it.
Contact information ( * required )
"(Homuth) would come in the store on her crutches and every time we'd see her someone would say, 'I wish we could do something to help her,' " said Karon Linder, a Blue Goose employee for 23 years. "Her scooter broke and finally (employee) Kathy (Rohrback) said 'Lets help her fix it.'"
Linder offered to ask her husband, Chuck, who likes to fix mechanical and electrical things -- and is also in a wheelchair -- to see if he could help her. Eventually, Chuck Linder realized the controller or the "brain" of the scooter was not working and he could fix it.
"I'm in a wheelchair myself ... have been for about four years, and I've always done automotive work on the side," said Chuck Linder, 67, of St. Charles, who has spinal muscle atrophy. "I ended up finding a used battery for Mary's chair and got a reasonable price."
With the new parts, Linder began to fix Homuth's chair. It took him about 50 hours over two weeks and $295 in parts. He ordered the parts, got new wheels for the scooter and made other minor adjustments. Finally, Linder was able to get the scooter working and returned it to Homuth Wednesday at the Blue Goose.
When receiving the improved scooter Homuth told Linder, "I appreciate what you did. Thank you so much. This is the nicest gift I've ever received."
A modest Linder told Homuth he has received many gifts and wanted to help her.
"It was something that she needed," Linder said, noting Homuth had knee replacement surgeries in 2004 and 2005. "It was something I could fix, so why not?"
Homuth was too small to fit in other scooters available at Caroll Towers, where she resides with her husband, which is why she needed hers fixed. It was too expensive to buy a new one.
While thanking Linder, Homuth held his hand and both had smiles on their faces the entire time.
"She's just a sweet little lady," Rohrback said of Homuth. "She always has a smile on her face, even when she was on the crutches."
Chuck Linder is not the only one helping Homuth. Blue Goose paid Linder for the parts he purchased. The store used the money it makes from the tip jar at the cookout events that happen every Friday. Blue Goose has also used that money to donate to Lazarus House and other local organizations.
As Homuth was about to leave the Blue Goose with her renovated scooter, Karon Linder shouted out, "No speeding," as Homuth zoomed out of the store.