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Get Marty: Many Seniors Struggling Without Stair Lifts

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Betty McCullough's struggle is hard to watch. Every step on every stair is an excruciating journey through different levels of pain.

Arthritis, injures and just plain old age, as she calls it, makes any attempt to get up or down the stairs in her home next to impossible.

"Both my knees, they started out just hurting. Now, it's to the place that when I try to walk, it grits and snaps in there, and that really hurts," she says. "I can't put the weight on my knees."

If McCullough's painful ordeal sounds and looks familiar, you nailed it.

It was just this spring when the Ponsi family donated and installed a chairlift in the home of disabled veteran Roger Madden. He had to crawl just to get up his stairs.

Disabled veteran James Price used a makeshift bathroom at the bottom of his stairs for years. Finally, business owner Carl D'Alicandro stepped up and donated a chairlift.

Rough estimates, thousands of western Pennsylvanians are stuck in this position.

Medicare doesn't cover chairlifts, leaving folks like McCullough desperate. That's when she called KDKA.

D'Alicandro is all too familiar with what he calls a crisis in senior care.

He owns his own stair lift company. He is now installing one for McCullough for free because he knows without it; she could be forced to a nursing home.

"It's pretty typical. A lot of people wait and wait until they finally get some help," says D'Alicandro.

It's a two-hour job, a $26,000 job done for free. It's a gesture of kindness and generosity unavailable to thousands of other seniors in the region in similar situations.

"The hard part about this is that stair lifts are a private pay item; Medicare doesn't cover it," said D'Alicandro.

Congressman Tim Murphy and Sen. Bob Casey are trying to determine if that can be changed.

Meanwhile, McCullough couldn't be happier with her new stair lift and more thankful.

"I feel like one of those rich ladies that has everything," she said. "This is great."

If you'd like Marty to help you solve your problem, email him at

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Get Marty: Disabled Veteran Gets Much Needed Medical Supplies (5/1/14)
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