Disabled Durham woman calls detective who donated wheelchair her ‘guardian angel’

Durham County News

A disabled Durham woman is calling one Durham detective her guardian angel.

She said when someone stole her wheelchair, the local investigator went above and beyond the call of duty.

Christine Burke, 76, has relied on an electric wheelchair for the past 14 years. Someone stole it from outside her Durham apartment. 

“I was real mad because that’s the only way I can get around,” Burke said.

She reported the crime to the Durham Police Department. When Investigator Ron Guardino saw his assignment, his heart sank. He knows what it’s like to have a loved one who’s confined to a wheelchair. 

“I could relate to her lack of ability to get out into the community without any mobility. A wheelchair are their legs,” Guardino said.


Guardino’s 28-year-old son has cerebral palsy.

“For all my son’s life, we’ve gotten [new wheelchairs] as he grows [out of] wheelchair after wheelchair,” Guardino said. “Especially electric wheelchairs because they’re so expensive, and dealing with your health benefits, it takes a long time. A lot of red tape before you actually could get that wheelchair to you.”

He said his son had recently gotten a brand new wheelchair.

“We were looking for a place to donate it and this case came up and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to help someone,” Guardino said.

Burke said it if it wasn’t for Guardino, she’d be stuck in her apartment. She calls him her guardian angel.

“I think the good lord sent him here,” she said.

“She told me that she leaves her electric wheelchair outside of her apartment because she cannot get it inside. She usually locks it up with a bike lock on a pole outside,” Guardino said.

Guardino wanted to make sure Burke’s wheelchair was never stolen again. So he came here on his day off and built her a ramp.

“Nobody else would’ve done that for me,” Burke said. 


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