A disabled Pittsfield veteran received an amazing surprise on his birthday.
It was a birthday celebration that offered a surprise gift for independence, and it was delivered by a friend he met several months ago. That’s when Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby walked into the First United Methodist Church during one of their daily breakfasts.
“They all assumed I was looking for people on warrants,” he said. “Like, there’s a cop in here and he just wants coffee?”
“He has other motives; good ones,” Bill McCarthy said.
Derby is best known for raising money for basketball hoops, snacks for kids, and offering support to those who are down and out. So it’s no surprise that he was drawn to the church where he met McCarthy, who was one of dozens accepting a daily meal.
“He’s a very likeable person, very selfless,” Derby said.
“I try not to depend on people, so I’m my own person,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s an Army veteran who lost his leg due to a medical issue unrelated to his service. For reasons of his own, he’d rather not seek out assistance from Veterans Affairs. So when his old, used motorized wheelchair finally died a while back, he lost much of his independence.
“We put our heads together and we decided that we wanted to do a fundraiser, but we also knew we had to be quiet about it because he’s not going to be overly receptive,” Ella Deane with the First United Methodist Church said.
But Officer Derby said it wasn’t necessary. He posted on his personal Facebook page.
“And just requested, ‘hey, this is what I’m looking for,’” he said.
And that’s how it happened.
And on Sunday, McCarthy’s 60th birthday, he watched the big reveal for himself.
“It’s given me my freedom back.”