By Amanda Hatfield
For Hometown News
SATELLITE BEACH - As residents of Florida's Space Coast, there is no limit to the number of coastal activities available.
And with the help of a special donation to one Brevard County city next month, individuals with disabilities will have the same opportunity to soak up as much of the Space Coast's sun as they'd like.
Through a lot of hard work and successful fundraising, the Satellite Beach Lions Club will donate a specially made beach-accessible wheelchair to the city of Satellite Beach, which can be used by anyone who requests it on any of the city's beaches.
Local resident Mary Stevic and her husband, Ron, who are both active Lions Club members, have been instrumental in the initiative.
Mrs. Stevic, who was left paralyzed from the waist down following a car accident, has been bound to a wheelchair since 2005.
"An elderly lady ran a stop sign and plowed into my car," Mrs. Stevic said. "My car rolled about 40 yards before it came to a stop."
The impact broke Mrs. Stevic's neck and severed her spinal cord.
In the past seven years, Mrs. Stevic has had to endure a great deal of physical therapy, as well as what she refers to as "self-therapy."
"Most of it has been getting back out there and not giving up," she said. "You know... being a little bit of an overachiever there at the end."
Through it all, Mr. Stevic has remained faithfully by his wife's side.
"When she came home from the hospital, she couldn't even pick up a fork and eat," Mr. Stevic recalled. "I had to feed her for about six months. Now, we're at the point where she can move her hands and feed herself."
The bond between the Stevics is full of love and admiration.
"She's the bravest person I know," Mr. Stevic said. "Mary is a real fighter."
Self-proclaimed Florida nomads, the Stevics settled in Brevard County about a year and a half ago.
"Both of us like to stay involved in our community," Mrs. Stevic said. "Ron became immediately involved in the Lions Club, and I joined a few months ago."
The couple's decision to join the Lions Club was an easy one, as it is an organization fully focused on the community. With a long history in the area, the Satellite Beach Lions Club hosts numerous fundraisers each year and gives 100 percent of its proceeds back to the community.
"The Lions Club has been around for a little over 100 years," said club president Jim Fayed. "Our local club has been here since 1960."
From eye-glasses drives to diabetes checks, the Lions Club makes sure the community it serves has access to items they need.
"Ron was the main chairperson at our car show this year," Mrs. Stevic said. "The Lions Club members asked him what he would like to do with part of the proceeds."
Mr. Stevic's decision was as easy as the one he made when he joined the Lions Club.
"We want to make sure people with disabilities are able to enjoy the beach as much as everyone else," Mrs. Stevic said.
The special wheelchair, which was built by Casual Line, is essentially a modified beach lounge chair, made with a combination of PVC piping and stainless steel hardware.
Large plastic wheels make it easy for occupants to cruise over the sand and even in the water. There is also an umbrella for those extra hot, sunny days.
"Maintenance on the chair is really easy," Mr. Stevic said. "All you need to do is hose it down once you're done."
While the chair is available for those to use now, the Lions Club will officially donate the chair during the Oct. 3 Satellite Beach City Council meeting.
"Anyone can use it, whether they're a Brevard resident or just visiting," Mrs. Stevic said. "If someone wants to use the chair, they just need to contact the Satellite Beach Police Department."
Those interested in using the chair need to provide some sort of identification while the chair is out for rental; there is no deposit required.
"The chair can be used at ramp accesses like Pelican Beach Park and Hightower Park," Mrs. Stevic said.
Although the road to Mary Stevic's recovery has been challenging, her tenacious spirit and the unconditional love she shares with her husband are what she said keeps her going.
"We're so happy to be part of the Lions Club; it's such an amazing organization," Mrs. Stevic said. "Giving back to a community that has already given us so much is really the best feeling."
For more information about the Satellite Beach Lions Club or how to become a member, visit www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/satellitebeach/page-7.php.
Meetings are held the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6:45 P.M. at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel, 1665 N. Highway A1A, Indialantic.
Contact the Satellite Beach Police Department at (321) 773-4445.