November 2021
by Dave Wardamasky

Hello Team Gleason crew,

Here is my submission of “What I Did On My Summer Vacation,” or “How the Team Gleason Crew Helped Me Fulfill a Dream.” Because of an illness that made it impossible for my partner to travel at the time, I had to journey solo across the country from Maine to California. I met up with my sister, brother-in-law, and friend, Nancy, once I got to California.

Day 1:
I left from Bangor airport early in the morning on Monday. The staffing at the airline couldn’t have been more helpful. They accommodated me and helped with getting on the plane, switching planes in Philadelphia, and getting across the country safely while traveling solo. I made a point not to drink a lot prior to the trip, which was good, because I have absolutely no idea how I would have been able to go to the bathroom once I was in my seat. After landing in California, I met up with my party. One we got there, we just had a relaxing evening.

Day 2:
We had tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel, and we did not have to be there until 3:30. At the suggestion of my friend Nancy, we spent the day playing tourist in the Hollywood Boulevard area. We had fun taking pictures, seeing the sights, and had a decent lunch. The staff at the show were more than accommodating and helpful for me. Afterward, we got home in the evening and slept very, very well. 

Day 3:
Beach day! Researching prior to the trip, it looked like Santa Monica beach was a nice place. I have many beaches locally where I live in Maine, but they are impossible to get to. After stopping at the Santa Monica pier, we got directions from a local vendor of where to go to get a beach chair rental; I was not the least bit disappointed! Free rental, power chair, and it was awesome! I was told not to get it in the water…OK, I cheated just so I could get my feet wet. It was nice feeling happy in the sand, getting my feet wet, and just being outside on the sand. It turns out that we chose the best day to go to the beach, as the weather was beautiful. 

That evening, we had dinner plans to meet some friends from my hometown. Some may recognize my friend Peter from the shows S.W.A.T. and This Is Us, among other things. I did my best to sell him on having a character that he plays getting ALS, as it brings attention to the disease, as well as hopefully an Emmy for him, because tearjerkers always sell. 

Day 4:
We chose this day to be more of a relaxing day, staying in the neighborhood and off of the freeways, as driving on them could be exhausting. We had a nice dinner locally and got to enjoy the jacuzzi at the hotel pool that had a hoist and crane to help me get in. Just a good day to wind down, which was definitely needed. 

Day 5:
With the help of the folks of Team Gleason getting me here, some contacts through a Seal Cove Auto Museum, and the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine,  we had an amazing morning visiting Jay Leno‘s Garage in Burbank. It wasn’t Jay giving me the tour, just one of his workers, but it was still an amazing experience. For a car guy like myself, it was just amazing to see the collection and I am thankful for the generosity of all those that were able to make it happen. Afterwards, I enjoyed a nice dinner with my crew, and then on the evening news we got to see a real California car chase, which I think is standard fare on evening news in this area. 

Sadly, the final day.
All good things have to come to an end. My sister commented that of all the days in California, this is the first day we were actually able to get up to the speed limit on the freeway. Again, the crew on the flight home was very helpful and accomodating for me in my wheelchair condition. The final leg from DC to Maine had me sitting in seat #1A. Because of the kindness of someone else, the only person in front of me was the flight crew. It’s hard for them to accommodate people in wheelchairs, but they did the best they could under the circumstances.

This was an awesome trip, and I am so thankful to those who helped make it happen. I’m not done traveling or seeing things, and next time, my partner will be able to come with me wherever that journey may take me.

Thanks again for all those at Team Gleason that made it happen, as it would not have been possible without your help.

David W.