Caregivers come together to give borough man Disney trip

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Michael DuBois, top left, Carol DuBois, bottom left, Peggy Ahrens, top right, and Donna Gaudio came together to help Linwood Parson, center, take a trip to Disney World. -LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — A Naugatuck man was able to make a dream of a trip to Disney World come true with the help of some kind people.

Linwood Parson, who is disabled, gets around in his motorized wheelchair. He is helped out each day by his caretaker, Carol DuBois and her husband Michael DuBois, who live in the house with him.

Despite his disabilities, Parson has traveled to quite a few different places.

While trying to choose which pictures to show from his trip to Disney World, he had to take out the pictures of trips to Cape Cod and Maine.

The planning for the trip to Disney World began when Parson decided he wanted to visit Florida, which was the state he was born in.

Parson’s Care Manager Donna Gaudio, who works with Care Management Associates, pointed out that, since he was interested in going to Florida, Parson might want to think about Disney World.

Parson, who had never been to Disney World before, thought visiting the park was a great idea.

In visiting the theme park, Parson would be able to achieve his dream of going back to his home state and his new dream of going to Disney World.

Gaudio explained that helping Parson make it to Florida was keeping in line with what her organization tries to do for all of its clients.

“Rather than saying ‘you need to do this, you need to do that,’ we’re more of an organization that says “what are your dreams, what are your goals, what do you want to do?’ So, we allow the person we serve to make decisions, and we’re there to aid them and assist them in those decisions,” said Gaudio.

To make sure that Parson was able to get to Florida safely and easily, Gaudio turned to Peggy Ahrens.

Ahrens works at Connecticut Community Care, Inc., which provides services to help people of all ages and abilities. This meant that she knew the needs and limitations of someone with Parson’s abilities. When she is not working at CCC, Ahrens works as a travel agent.

“Peggy set up this whole trip for Linwood. She did everything,” Gaudio said.

In tandem with booking the flight, hotel, and other arrangements for Parson and Carol and Michael DuBois, and Ahrens made sure that the airline and hotel she chose were equipped and knowledgeable in providing the correct services for a disabled individual.

When the day arrived for Parson and Carol and Michael DuBois to fly down to Disney World, Parson was a little bit nervous. This was the first time he had ever been on a plane.

Though he was nervous, he remained jovial and upbeat. Once the plane was in the air, Parson found the experience enjoyable.

Once he arrived in Disney World, Parson began having a very good time.

He was able to go on rides and took a boat ride to other parts of the park. However, what he really remembered were the fireworks that were set off each night.

As he recalled them, a large smile broke across his face.

While down in Disney World, Parson visited the Fantasia Show, Hollywood Studios, Epcot Center, and Daytona International Speedway. He took in the sites, saw the tourist attraction and even built a model car, which he had on display in the living room.

Parson did not stop smiling the whole time he spoke about his trip to Disney World and joked that the Epcot Center looked like a giant golf ball.

It wasn’t just the joy of visiting the multiple theme parks that Parson enjoyed. He enjoyed the fact that Florida has nice weather year-round.

CCC’s Public Relations and Communications Manager Ursula Daiber was pleased with how everybody came together to help Parson achieve his dreams.

“One of his wishes was fulfilled because of the systems of everyone working around this great guy,” Daiber said.

Daiber felt that Disney’s motto of wishing upon a star came true for Parson.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what ability or disability you have,” Daiber said. “It shows you that you have infinite possibilities. Anything can happen if you set your mind to it.”

Gaudio asked Parson if he would like to go back to Florida someday and, with a large smile on his face, Parson answered, “We are going.”