“One of the neat things is people have donated services,” DiPietro said, noting that the numbers are down about 10 percent from last year’s record pace at this time — a dip she attributes to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month, which galvanized the nation’s attention.
Yet bright spots abound with this year’s series.
Take Moise Brutus.
The good-natured 22-year-old was left a triple-amputee after surviving a 2010 motorcycle accident that took his lower legs and left hand. The Miramar officers who helped rescue him after the crash on the Turnpike bonded with the resilient, positive young man. The Miramar Police Department nominated Brutus for Wish Book.
Brutus’s goal is to compete in cycling at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Brazil. He bikes up to 30 miles six days a week, while attending Miami Dade College on weekdays to pursue a degree in chemistry.
“He’s really shown everyone that no matter what disabilities you may have, you need to continue to strive forward and not let anything get in your way,” said Tania Rues, spokeswoman for the Miramar Police Department.
After reading his story, an anonymous donor bought Brutus a new silver Suzuki Kizashi car and had it outfitted with controls Brutus can operate with his artificial limbs. To help him continue his training, Mack Cycle in South Miami donated a new bicycle and heart monitor.
“This has been a true blessing,” Rues said. “What their donation did for him was not just helping him out one day, but helping him out every day of his life. We all take for granted what a vehicle provides for us but, for him, it’s not only necessary for school but to continue with his training and reach his goals to participate in the Paralympics. This has been life-altering for him. Moise is so appreciative of what everyone has done for him.”
Miami Herald staff writers David Smiley and Carli Teproff contributed to this story. Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.