Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charity to help Pasco boy with spina bifida get new wheelchair

NEW PORT RICHEY — Joshua Keller has been rolling around in the same wheelchair since he was 4. Now he is 9 years old, and his bottom barely fits on the seat. Every week the chair needs some fixing.

"He's just simply outgrown the chair, but I can't afford to buy him a new one," said his father John Keller, a realtor suffering through a difficult housing market. He also works as a wedding disc jockey.

Joshua was born with spina bifida, a condition where the bones of the spine do not form properly around part of the spinal cord. The Deer Park Elementary third-grader is paralyzed from the waist down.

Now, thanks to a new nonprofit organization, he has a shot at new, sporty wheelchair.

A Charitable Wheelchair Foundation of St. Petersburg will host an event on Saturday at Shananigans Irish Bar in New Port Richey to help raise money for Joshua.

The state of Florida provides a heavier wheelchair, but it restricts the young, energetic boy. The foundation hopes to put him in a sporty model that is light with a low back and alloy frame he could easily maneuver. It costs at least $1,500.

Keller, 46, is divorced and raising Joshua and his 6-year-old sister, Jenna.

Joshua enjoys school, sailing with his father, swimming and reading. Every night before bed he prays and gives thanks for his family and food.

"I prayed a lot that Johnny (his brother in the Army) came back from Afghanistan," he said. "And he did."

Joshua has fun with his wheelchair.

"I go off curvy sidewalks, go on the grass, and I even go backwards sometimes," he said.


Paul Summerfield, founder of A Charitable Wheelchair Foundation, randomly met Joshua's grandmother at a veterans home. During their conversation, he learned of Joshua's situation.

Spokesman Joe Manzo, 51, said Joshua's fundraiser is the first event for the fledgling foundation. Manzo, who has cerebral palsy and is also in a wheelchair, said he joined the four-member group about a month ago.

"Our goal and our plan is to help raise funds for any child in need of a wheelchair or walker," he said.

Manzo said most kids in wheelchairs are like Joshua — they challenge themselves to do things they are told they can't do.

"I fell in love with the kid, and there are thousands of Joshuas out there," he said. "We want to help these young fighters."

Jacqueline Baylon can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: For information about A Charitable Wheelchair Foundation's efforts to provide a new wheelchair to 9-year-old Joshua Keller, call Joe Manzo at (727) 326-7662. Due to incorrect information provided to the Times, the wrong phone number ran with the original version of this article.

>>fast facts

Help Joshua

Date: Saturday, Sept. 3

Location: Shananigans, 8404 Little Road, New Port Richey

Time: Noon to close

Activities: Barbecue, games, music

For more information go to: or call Joe Manzo at (727) 326-7662.

Charity to help Pasco boy with spina bifida get new wheelchair 08/31/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 1, 2011 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program


    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's …

  2. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000


    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  3. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big


    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  4. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  5. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times