TAMPA — When he was a small child, he noticed all the kids in the neighborhood were riding skateboards. All of them.
Tim Dutka wasn’t going to be left out. He was determined to ride a skateboard, maybe not like the other kids, but he was going to do it. No matter what.
Even if everyone told him he couldn’t.
Tim, now 42, has suffered with cerebral palsy since he was born. In fact, insensitive doctors told Tim’s parents to give up and walk away from the situation. It was hopeless, they told Tim’s parents, Marney and John.
The parents never gave up. Neither did Tim. He’s been working at the Carrollwood Home Depot for 20 years, and his co-workers threw him a big party last week. Tim has become a celebrity in the Carrollwood area and many folks showed up to support him. Tim works from his wheelchair on Tuesdays and Thursdays and everyone knows him. He’s the guy in the chair who handles returns and works his way through the store, greeting people when he can by his Dynavox device, which allows him to communicate.
The job at Home Depot was created especially for him. He’s also worked at Publix. He knows that there’s no immediate cure for cerebral palsy, but his mom said his spirits are usually high.
“We love Home Depot for the chances they have given him,” Marney said. “He saw the job, they had aisles big enough for his wheelchair, and he had about 100 letters of recommendation. They had no choice but to hire him.”
At Home Depot, he is simply known as “Tim the Tool Guy.” Tim travels to work in his own car, which is in his name. He can’t drive it, but it is wheelchair accessible.
He’s come a long way since the day his parents were told to just let it go. John and Marney simply said that giving up was never an option.
“They told us to walk away,” John said. “They said he would be on our backs for the rest of our lives. We weren’t giving up.”
Tim has two brothers — Sean and Brent — who treat Tim just like one of the guys. It gets frustrating, Marney said, when Tim sees other guys playing out in the streets, but his brothers keep his spirits up. Tim is a huge Tampa Bay Bucs and Rays fan and can be heard shouting at the television screen during late games after the rest of the family has gone to bed.
John said that Tim has had a lot going for him despite his disability.
“He gets letters from everyone and he hangs them in his room and it makes him happy,” John said. “He makes more friends in one year than most people make in an entire lifetime.’’