Mat will make Marco Island beach accessible to everyone

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
The Marco Island Patriots are designing and funding a large beach mat to put at South Marco Beach, making it accessible for those in wheelchairs or who can’t be mobile on sand. (Credit: Marco Island Patriots)

What if you couldn’t enjoy our beautiful beaches? That’s a reality for people with certain disabilities, other health-related issues, and those of older ages.

There’s a project on the beaches of Marco Island to get massive mats rolled out so everyone can get in on the fun.

Julie Proctor and her son Nathan are among those looking forward to getting back to the beach.

“We used to come and my kids would carry him out to the beach, and it was great. Well, Nate gets big, and big kids are gone, no way to get to the beach,” Julie said.

“Yeah, he gets left behind; we get left behind.”

Because of Nathan’s wheelchair, when everyone goes to the beach, sometimes he has to stay back.

“To be by the beach, to get on the ocean just like everybody else would be fantastic,” Julie said.

That simple dream is closer to reality, thanks to the Marco Patriots.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer. Why didn’t we have one of these before?” asked Bob Roth with the Patriots.

The group is helping Collier County design and fund a large beach mat to put at South Marco Beach. It will make it easier for people like Nathan to enjoy the island life.

“Right now, we maybe don’t need that, but others certainly do, and we probably will too,” Roth said.

The mat will stretch down the access point and onto the beach, so next time everyone, including Nathan, wants to enjoy the surf and sand, no one will get left behind.

“I’m like Nate, we are going to go, we are going to get you in the water,” Julie said. “It’s just a huge thank you. It literally just brings tears to your eyes.”

Marco Island City Council will have another discussion about the beach mats on May 17. The plan is to have the mats in place by November after sea turtle nesting season.

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