Perry officer’s act of kindness leads to friendship

awoolen@macon.comFebruary 12, 2014 

PERRY -- A call to the Perry Police Department to check on the welfare of a resident around Thanksgiving has turned into a friendship between an officer and the man.

When Officer Dan Manly responded to the home of Kessler Lewis at 2 a.m. Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving, he found the man hungry and waiting on a caregiver who hadn’t shown up since 8 a.m. the previous day. Manly said at first he was angry with the caregiver for leaving Lewis in that state. Then he made up his mind to do something about it.

“It just so happened there was all this food” at the station, Manly said. His mother had cooked it for those who were working on the holiday.

Manly brought a Thanksgiving plate to Lewis and hand-fed him, as Lewis is an incomplete quadriplegic and cannot feed himself, though he can move his feet and hands.

The two bonded during the experience, and Manly frequently goes by Lewis’ house to check on him and for companionship.

“It’s a good thing we have officers like him who are considerate,” Lewis said.

Manly’s goal is to see Lewis be able to get out of his wheelchair and bed with the physical therapy he receives. Doctors think that with physical therapy, Lewis will be able to walk again.

The 53-year-old Lewis is a graduate of Perry High School and has lived in Perry off and on since the 1970s. His siblings reside in Atlanta, and he has relied on local caregivers for help after a four-wheeler accident.

Manly, who has been with the Perry Police Department for six years, was honored at a January Perry City Council meeting for his service.

“I would’ve done it if I hadn’t been a police officer,” Manly said. He was raised by a single mom and said he hasn’t forgotten struggling as a child.

“It was the way I was raised,” he said.

Lewis, who uses a wheelchair that has a fingertip lever to steer and move the wheels, hopes his story will inspire those who oversee caregivers to have a better system for oversight. He said he knows of other instances where people have not received the care they needed due to the negligence of others.

“As a person who is dependent on others, you have to rely on other folks to assist you,” he said. “A lot of them are not dedicated.”

Manly isn’t one of those.

Though he is humble about what he did, he also hopes it brings a different light to those in law enforcement.

“We’re human. We have feelings. We aren’t just out writing tickets all day,” Manly said.

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