Trip of a lifetime

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sammy Beard was waiting not so patiently Wednesday morning outside of his group home for his ride to the YMCA of Selma and Dallas County. But it wasn’t just any ride, it was with Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Haskell.

The anticipation was building, and when Haskell finally pulled into the driveway with lights flashing, Beard was yelling and smiling from ear to ear.

“He’s here,” Beard yelled when he saw Haskell pull up.

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The two — a sheriff’s deputy and a 34-year-old with cerebral palsy — have become friends.

They met at the YMCA of Selma and Dallas County, where Beard has been training for a little more than a year to swim in the Special Olympics one day, and Haskell is his teacher.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to have [cerebral palsy], but I want to make sure that if someone does, I can give them an opportunity to feel normal and do something that they never ever get to do,” Haskell said. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to do something.”

Haskell often drives by the house that Beard lives in and blows the horn or turns on his siren to say hello when he’s on the porch.

“Whenever I’m on duty and I come by here, I always hit my siren or hit my horn so they can all wave and say hello,” Haskell said.

“I have to bring something back to Selma, that’s the reason I came back here.”

To Beard, that means everything.

“[He rides by here] in his police car and blows at me,” Beard said with a grin on his face.

Haskell is the operations officer at the YMCA, and teaches swimming lessons. That’s where the friendship blossomed.

“[I have just] started up friendships with some of the special needs that we have coming in there. The YMCA is a big thing, and of course me working at the Sheriff’s Department, I have an opportunity to touch people in both ways,” Haskell said.

“We hit it off really well with Sammy.”

Haskell said Beard has always talked about riding in his car, so after talking to Chief Deputy Randy Pugh, they decided to go ahead and offer Beard a ride, lights and all. To Haskell, he was making a wish a reality.

Haskell picked Beard up out of his wheelchair and put him in the car. Beard checked out everything inside the car, and they were soon on their way for a joy ride to the YMCA.

“It was beautiful [to see his reaction]. It makes the job I do worth it. All the bad stuff I have to see all the time, it’s good to see something good every once in a while,” Haskell said.