“Amazing response”: Friends, community donate over $8,000 to help disabled former policeman stay on the road

Published 12:05 am Saturday, May 30, 2015

By Hugh Fisher

SALISBURY — Friends who know him say David Parde isn’t one to ask for help.

Nor is he one to complain about his situation, several people said during a fundraiser on Friday to help the former policeman update his wheelchair-accessible van.

It’s been 23 years since Parde, a former Lexington police officer, was shot in the line of duty – a wound that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Today, Parde is retired. Most Fridays, he drives his van up to The Perfect Smoke cigar lounge on South Lee Street.

They’ve got a nickname for him there, “Hot Wheels” – because of his wheelchair, but it’s all in good fun.

Friday, the people who’ve gotten to know Parde at The Perfect Smoke, plus a lot of new friends, pitched in to help keep him on the road.

The Parde family needs at least $18,100 to replace his wheelchair lift, which is 15 years old and has had to be refurbished multiple times.

But his van – equipped with special controls so Parde can drive – has nearly 242,000 miles on it. To replace both would cost about $70,000.

The fundraiser at The Perfect Smoke netted over $8,000 thanks to patrons who bought raffle tickets and took part in a silent auction.

That, plus other fundraisers, puts the family on the way to replacing the equipment that keeps Parde mobile.

“I’ve been amazed,” Parde said, as he sat in his wheelchair about dusk, enjoying a cigar.

Around him, under tents and on the porch, people enjoyed refreshments, puffed on cigars and listened as winners of a raffle drawing were announced.

Three years ago, Parde said, he heard about The Perfect Smoke while out at dinner. It quickly became his hangout.

Darren Moody, owner of the cigar shop, said the response of customers and the community “has been amazing.”

“It’s a fantastic feeling, knowing that the community will come out to support someone who really deserves it, as well as supporting a local business,” Moody said.

Along with proceeds from the night going to Parde, Moody said tobacco company representatives had been very generous in donating silent auction items – some of them valued at hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Life hasn’t stopped for Parde, who earned a college degree from High Point University and met his future wife in the years after the shooting that left him disabled.

Having new equipment to help him drive “will definitely make things easier,” Parde said.

Karin Lord, of Salisbury, frequents The Perfect Smoke. Parde’s story is especially meaningful, she said, because her fiancé, Joseph Scrip, is a Salisbury police officer.

“It’s just scary,” Lord said of the dangers police officers face, “but I know he’s out there protecting me.”

Lord said she’s glad to see the community reaching out to Parde. “He and his wife are the most deserving people I know,” she said.

“(Parde) is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met,” Lord said. “He’ll help anybody, anytime.”

Salisbury Police Officer Ruben Ijames, who was at the fundraiser, said he was glad to see the turnout. “It’s always good to see community supporting officers,” Ijames said.

For Brandon Gilchrist, Parde’s son, the community’s generosity was touching.

“He’s not one to ask for help,” Gilchrist said. “He’s a bigger man, he can’t stand asking. But this has been an amazing response from the community. Words don’t really explain it.”

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.