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North Bay's first beach access mat to be named after man who lived his life advocating for accessibility

'He said to me ‘I’m going to fight to get a ramp into this lake.’ And he did' Wayne Miller about son Adam Miller

North Bay’s first beach accessibility mat is to be named Wheels to Water in memory of Adam “Wheels” Miller.

See: Rolling out the carpet for accessibility at North Bay's waterfront

Miller passed away suddenly in 2016 at the age of 36.

As a member of the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, Miller fought long and hard to get a mat installed that would make beaches accessible to everyone.

“I remember after meetings he would call me, and he would be so frustrated sometimes if it didn’t go his way and he fought to the end. I know he is smiling down and he is so happy that this is going to be happening,” said Candace Penasee, Miller’s sister.

Their father Wayne Miller and Penasee attended this week’s city council meeting where a motion was put forward by deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch to have a sign erected and the mat named in his honour.

“We’re very, very thankful and very proud. It means a lot to our family. For them to acknowledge him and to have his name on it means a lot,” said Wayne.

He further said his son, who was unable to get his own wheelchair through the sand to the water’s edge, never tired of trying to help other people.

“He said to me ‘I’m going to fight to get a ramp into this lake.’ And he did,” said an emotional Wayne.  

Miller enjoyed spending summers driving four-wheelers and tractors at the family farm in Thornloe.

Wayne considered his son a “farm boy” at heart.

“Adam knew what it was to work and to get something, you had to work for it, “said Wayne.

Miller started his own business, Miller Promotions and Event Planning and held wrestling benefits for Special Olympics.

“He worked tirelessly, started at the ground level to make that wrestling so he could raise funds for the Special Olympics. Adam was never tired of trying to help other people,” said his father.

Although Miller loved and participated in countless sports, he had a real passion for swimming.

“Adam loved to swim. When he went to Easter Seals camps, he would outdo three or four councillors trying to tread water and they couldn’t keep up to him. He could out do anybody. He could swim all day. That was one sport he loved. He played tons of pickup hockey but swimming, once he got in the water he was as good as anybody else.”

Vrebosch recognized Miller’s work as a strong advocate for accessibility in the community.

“It is unfortunate that we are doing this after he’s passed but his family is very supportive. We asked them what they thought of the name and we threw a few other names out at them, but Wheels to the Water just seemed to be fitting because his nickname was Adam “Wheels” Miller.”

The mat was meant to be in place at Marathon Beach in June, but distribution issues prevented that from happening.  

“We’ve purchased the mat from a company and unfortunately something has gone wrong. But we are expecting it by the end of July. If it comes earlier, we will absolutely be putting it in sooner than that. It can’t come soon enough,” said Vrebosch.

“This is the first one that we have and if it does work well, and I honestly believe that it will because it does work in other communities, we should be seeing these at other community beaches.”

Once the mat is installed at Marathon Beach, which may change if blue-green algae remains an issue, a date will be announced for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The Miller family plans to be out in “full force” on that day.

“We will definitely be celebrating Adam on that day. We’ll have lots of family there and we will make it a special day,” said his sister.