In time of grief, comes charity

A Massachusetts girl whose wheelchair was stolen while trick-or-treating has a new one thanks to a New Hampshire woman who made the donation in the midst of personal grief.

Angela Canto of Hudson heard that 8-year-old Hannah Carter, who has Down syndrome, had her chair stolen on Halloween night, the same day Canto’s husband died.

Canto reached out to the Carter family on the same day as her husband’s wake, offering his wheelchair. The Carters, who had refused numerous offers and had decided to buy another wheelchair, were moved by Canto’s generosity at a difficult time.

“Mrs. Canto called, and with everything with her husband, it touched us,” said Felicia Carter, Hannah’s mother. “It struck a chord with us.”

Hannah uses a wheelchair only when walking long distances, her mother said. The family went out on the evening of Halloween in their Lakeville, Mass., neighborhood with Hannah riding in the chair and then walking to the front door of each house. Lakeville is south of Boston, near Taunton.

They reached the last home in the neighborhood, one with a tricky set of stairs. Hannah’s mother assisted her ascent, leaving the wheelchair at the edge of the driveway.

In a matter of moments, mother and daughter heard only a noise and then saw a white van driving away. The wheelchair was gone.

“She was extremely upset and crying, but as soon as I assured her we’d get a new one, that was that,” Felicia Carter said.

Hannah’s story soon made the local news, and then spread to larger media outlets. Many wheelchairs were offered, including an electric one, but the Carters planned on replacing it themselves.

But Angela Canto heard about Hannah’s plight on WBZ radio, and decided to give away her late husband’s wheelchair, Felicia Carter said. Canto could not be reached for comment.

Felicia Carter, whose father, Jose, had just died two weeks earlier, could not turn Canto down.

“That’s why we accepted it: the connection with my dad and her husband,” Carter said.

Hannah and her mom visited Canto’s home this past weekend and accepted the wheelchair. Hannah ate pizza and doughnuts, and the families enjoyed themselves.

Canto’s husband, Edward Canto, died at their Hudson home. A Boston native, Edward Canto played cards, gardened and took great pleasure in his family, including his four granddaughters. Now his legacy extends to a Massachusetts community.