Carmen George

Blindness isn’t stopping one 90-year-old from leading walks as a proud ‘pedal pusher’

Ninety-year-old Anne Mose is legally blind, but that’s not stopping her from leading Flora “Flo” Burgess on a walk every week.

Pushing the wheelchair of her new 92-year-old friend through a courtyard at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens on Friday, they pass a cluster of planted flowers beneath a water fountain at the Fresno retirement and assisted living community.

“What kind of flowers do they have below, can you tell?” Mose asks.

“Little white ones.”

Their walk is nearing its end. They enter a building and Mose wheels Burgess into her room. Before she leaves, she leans down and kisses her friend on the forehead.

“I’m going to see you Monday again. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“I’m still saying my prayers for you.”

And with that, the petite retired nurse wearing a cheery red vest heads back to her living quarters across the gated community.

Mose is one of 14 Pedal Pushers’ volunteers at The Terraces who lead less-mobile neighbors with physical or mental limitations on walks around the 25-acre campus. Pedal Pushers is Mose’s way of continuing to give back after losing most of her eyesight seven years ago. She says she may no longer be able to sew or read, but she can still walk.

Resident Gloria Kunz got the idea for the group during a meeting earlier this year after a man asked some of the residents: “What would you like to do that you don’t get to do?”

“This little lady, she really touched my heart, she said, ‘I just want to go outside,’ ” Kunz recalls, “and I thought, ‘You know, that’s not too much to ask.’ 

Kunz approached Esther Nalchajian, chair of the sunshine committee, to help get it started in the spring.

“I think it awakens a friendship between the patients,” Nalchajian says, “and what could be easier than pushing somebody for 30 to 45 minutes and visiting with them? I hope somebody will do that for me.”

Melissa Sanders, lifestyle enrichment manager at The Terraces, is also pleased. She’s looking to expand the program to include volunteers from outside The Terraces.

Pedal Pushers has brightened up Burgess’ life.

“I’m glad I got chosen,” she says. “It keeps my hands busy – stay out of trouble.”

And what trouble is that?

“Eating too much,” Burgess says with a smile.

The best part, of course, is the lady pushing her wheelchair past fountains and flowers every week.

Of Mose, Burgess says, “She’s a true friend.”

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge