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Vietnam veteran finds new freedom in new set of wheels

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    Edmond (WFOR) — A local veteran has a new set of wheels – and they’re changing his life.

The double amputee is now able to go up and downstairs – even through sand – and enjoying a sense of freedom like never before.

Most couples have their true first dance on their wedding day, but Cpl. Eddie Beesley and his wife Connie have waited for their turn on the dance floor for a long time.

“We married and we’ve been together 53 years now,” Beesley said. “That’s my girl Connie.”

After just a few months in Vietnam with the Marines, Cpl. Beesley’s life changed forever.

“Ended up in a minefield – in a lot of chaos – of course.”

Eddie lost both legs – spending the next 3 months in California at the Oakland Navy Hospital.

“While I was there, I met a young USO lady,” said Beesley about meeting Connie.

She gave him hope for a future that seemed so daunting.

“When it came time to leave the hospital I realized there was a world out there and I had to make my way in it and there was no one to show me the way,” Beesley said. “She made it a lot easier.”

After moving back to Edmond, life in a wheelchair presented challenges – some many would never think about, like just chatting with friends.

“They have a tendency to look over my head – talk to whoever is standing around me – a lot of times I’m not a part of the conversation because I’m not there,” said Beesley. “Because I’m short.”

But hope came in the form of a new set of wheels in 2010 at Veteran’s Week in Branson and some newfound, famous friends telling Eddie about new technology.

The iBot – or the Ferrari of wheelchairs – went out of production due to battery issues, unfortunately, one year before Beesley discovered it, but he was able to get one secondhand.

Eventually it died, but his hope for a new one didn’t.

“Once you’ve had one – it is a life-changer,” Beesley said.

Now – 10 years later – Eddie has his very own iBot, given to him and several others by The Infinite Hero Foundation.

Eddie can now climb stairs, change light bulbs, and most of all, dance with his sweetheart.

“Of course being a USO hostess – that was one of her things was dancing,” he said.

In addition to the iBot, he also received a brand new Toyota pickup – which can pick up his chair, giving him the freedom to take whatever path he chooses.

“It means a lot,” said Beesley.

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CNN

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