Chuck Ebaugh, 79, of Brookdale Mt. Lebanon in Pittsburg, PA, is a resilient gentleman with a positive outlook on life. Chuck spent his young teenage days building soap box derbies and raced them. His Wish of a Lifetime was to attend the Soap Box Derby Championships for the first time.
Growing up, Chuck was the youngest and the “runt” of his class. Because of his size, he was discouraged to join sports, so became interested in soap box derby racing. Chuck enjoyed working with his hands and building his own derby car. When Chuck was younger, he also enjoyed volunteering at a school for the blind. He helped them write letters and took them on errands, like grocery shopping, getting haircuts, etc. Chuck is a kind gentleman who is the type of person to say “hello” to everyone he saw because he wanted everyone around him to be happy.
In 2012, Chuck had an unfortunate accident where he was hospitalized for several days. He had a tough fall and was rushed to the hospital to have surgery performed on him. After the operation, Chuck started using a prosthetic leg in replacement of a lost limb. He underwent a year of rehabilitation. After all his hard work, he learned how to walk on his own and live independently again. Now, in his Brookdale community, Chuck is very involved and helpful to his neighbors. He is the President of the Resident Council. He says that he pays special attention to residents that need extra care because he can empathize with them.
Thanks to Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale, on July 25, 2015, childhood dream became a reality. Chuck traveled to Akron, OH to attend the 2015 All-American Soap Box Derby Championships for an experience of a lifetime. “There were maybe thousands of people there,” Chuck said, “but none of them were happier than me.” Chuck began the day being a part of the Opening Ceremony Parade, where he was recognized for his Wish of a Lifetime. When Chuck heard his name being announced over the speaker, it reminded him of when he raced as a little kid. After the parade, Chuck went down on the track in a derby car for the first time in more than 60 years. He spent the rest of the day watching the competitors race from the box office and also from the sidelines. About his experience, Chuck said, “Your mind is a terrible thing to lose, but as long as I have my mind, I’ll have this memory and I’ll be happy.”
Photos by Stephanie Simmons Photography and Jeff Hartman, BitMod Studios