COMANCHE, OK (KSWO) - A proud Vietnam veteran can again leave his home thanks to the selfless effort of a Stephens County woman he has never even met.
Rick Lancaster is a veteran who lives in Washington state. As a result of exposure to Agent Orange, he has slowly lost his ability to walk and cannot leave his home. He posted his story on Facebook, begging for help in locating a motorized wheelchair. Tammy Wylie, who lives in Comanche, saw that post and was so moved, she took it upon herself to do something for him.
Wylie said she saw Lancaster's first post begging for any help he could get in locating a mobile chair on Facebook on August 11th. After about a week of seeing others post comments, but not offering any specific help, she finally realized that someone had to step up, and knew that despite being 2,000 miles away, she had to do everything she could to help him get his life back on track.
Wiley said she saw several people leaving comments, letting Lancaster know they were praying for him. She decided she wanted to do more than that.
"Step out there, help these people, have compassion," Wiley said.
Wiley reached out to Lancaster to hear his story and find out exactly what he was going through. Lancaster said he could not leave his home anymore, and had even installed a camera at his home so he could see what was going on in the outside world.
"It's very lonely, I did a lot of crying, a lot of weeping, a lot of praying," Lancaster said.
Wiley then figured out exactly what Lancaster needed and quickly got to work.
"Finally I got online, started searching, it seems the first few doors I opened and went to there was help, I messaged the Hand Up Project and asked them do they have a mobile chair and he got right back with me and said 'yes I do, I have one'," Wiley said.
The problem was, that chair did not have working batteries.
"So I called The Donor Closet, which I found that place, and they offered free batteries and a technician to look at it," Wiley said. "So we got it up and running and we decided we would surprise Mr. Lancaster. And I was on pins and needles."
What happened next still makes Wiley emotional. Just two weeks after Lancaster made the Facebook post, the group in Washington not only got the chair together and delivered it to him, but also cleaned his home and built ramps so he could get his new chair in and out of the house.
"When I saw him in that chair, my heart was just overwhelmed I just teared up inside and I was just so happy for him, to see the trees and the birds and him with laughter and tears and it just broke my heart," Wylie said.
That happened Thursday and Wiley says Lancaster is still on cloud nine.
"He told me 'I just sat there and cried, that's all I've been able to do is cry'," Wylie said. "These people, these angels, they came and helped me and after 40 years, he said I had to wait 40 years for someone to come and help me, I've been forgotten for 40 years but now I'm not."
Wiley said she does not want this story to simply be about her, but about all the people who came together to help someone in need. She hopes people can look at this and realize the great things that can happen when they show a little compassion.