By Christine Morton SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ll only be a minute” and parked in a handicapped parking spot? Well, one ex-Sheriff says this type of behavior hits too close to home.
For more than three years, Ruth Schwartz worked as a Deputy Sheriff for SHAPE overseeing public parking lots. She took this job as an opportunity to give back as she was enduring a difficult time within her personal life. At the age of 28, her son David became paralyzed during a skiing accident. Since then, her outlook on life and situations inlcuding handicapped parking were changed.
During her time as Sheriff, she saw dozens of people parking illegally or incorrectly in handicapped parking spaces. However, her method of reprimanding did not include a $150.00 ticket, but a more valuable lesson. Schwartz believed in not just telling them what they did wrong, but showing them what they did wrong. For example, she would approach the individual and explain to them why what they did was wrong by using her own experience with her son.
Schwartz also does not believe there are enough parking spaces available in commercial lots. She says there are more than 20,000 people who go the YMCA and there are only 12 designated handicapped parking spots. She believes something more can be done.
However, despite all the odds, Schwartz believes “its not the life that you have been given, its what you do with the life that you have been given that counts.” As a result, you can find Schwartz at the Upstate Medical University supporting stem cell research for spinal cord injuries.