A couple who has enjoyed walks together for a long time was shocked to find out that this would become a struggle from now on. As soon as his wife discovered she had multiple sclerosis, the husband was determined to find a solution so they could still enjoy their outdoor time.
That's why he built a rickshaw and pulled his wife on their favorite walk routes, honoring their commitment to love and support each other every day of their lives.
What are the details?
Rick Dorothy and his wife, Jan, have been married for 27 years, and they live in Michigan, close to Lansing. The two of them cherished walking together for a long time because it was a chance to spend quality time, share difficulties, talk about the things that made them smile, reduce stress for their family, and plan trips with their loved ones.
They usually went on a 2-mile route close to their home, and the circular trail made them feel relaxed and find positive energy to face any difficulty.
It all changed when Rick's wife found out she had MS. Rick remembers they noticed something was wrong on one of their walks.
"We kind of discovered it from our walks. I thought maybe she was just out of shape because she didn't do a lot of walking before," Rick shared with The Epoch Times.
After taking another walk with friends who weren't fit and smokers, Rick and Jan understood something was wrong.
Once they found out she had MS, they worked together to stop her condition from getting worse. Rick helped Jan with her daily exercises, learned to keep track of her treatment, and they kept on walking.
"Jan has never cried once; she's never felt sorry for herself. I've cried, but she didn't," Rick said.
Even though he doesn't recall exactly how the idea of a rickshaw came to him, he soon realized it was an excellent solution for them.
"My name is Rick, so I said, 'Maybe I should make you a rickshaw and pull you around!' Everybody laughed, but I was a little more serious because I love to invent things," he said.
He worked on it thoughtfully, gathered all the parts he needed, and built the rickshaw in a few weeks. He also added a rope around his waist so he could pull it as he walked. During the build, Rick and Jan tested different plywood seats to make sure the rickshaw was correctly balanced.
Rick also attempted to make the rickshaw "aesthetically nice" and added big tires so Jan's rides would be comfortable.
They did their first test run on a 500-foot driveway, and Jan said, "Oh, this is not too bad!"
The more challenging test was taking the rickshaw on a route close to the railways, where they used to gather mushrooms and see wildflowers.
"I think it means a lot to all of us," Rick said, adding that the only times he's left the house since the restrictions began was when he needed to get food or take Jan to her appointments.
Rick is now retired and has had a job in several areas such as boat-building, construction, and woodworking. He's also ready to offer tips to anyone who'd like to make a rickshaw of their own.
"I showed people how to remove parts of the rickshaw, put it on their car, and then when you get to where you're going to walk, just pull it out, put a few pins, and it's all back together. I'm very willing to help people any way I can if they want to make it," he said.
When Jan was feeling better, she and Rick built three houses together. Since she's been diagnosed, Rick has built a one-story house, adapted to her needs, including a walk-in shower, a downstairs bedroom, grab bars in all rooms, and accessible cabinets. And Jan definitely enjoys the view from her window where she can see deer coming to visit.
Their family land is special to both of them, and it has a tree they both cherish.
"When we first got together, I took Jan on a hiking date, and we went for a walk in the woods. I decided to profess our love to the world by carving a heart into a tree trunk with our initials. Later, we married, had children, and bought the 70 acres where that tree was," Rick recalls.
Since then, the couple has often gone to that tree to reflect on their life as they sat under its branches. A few years ago, a storm took the tree down.
"We felt like we lost a family member," Rick said.
They used what was left of the tree to make a decorative shelf that holds all their memories on anniversaries and birthdays.
"I have since gone out and carved our initials into another beech tree for peace of mind!" Rick added.
The couple is keeping each other positive and focused on what they can still do and enjoy. Jan exercises daily and can do a little housework and the dishes. She also makes the beds and walks by using a frame.
"Most are good days, but there are some days where it's hard, and we just get through it together. She's never said, 'Why me?' She's a religious person. I think she has faith that everything will be as good as possible. I love she never feels sorry for herself. She's always sweet. She's just a good person. I wish I was so good," Rick said.
And if his wife ever loses the ability to walk, Rick is confident they can overcome that too.
"If you can't walk, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy life. There's still a lot to see," he concluded, showing once again how much it matters to have the right partner by your side.