Two first responder brothers from the FDNY and NYPD swooped in to help change the lives of a Brooklyn father and his son living with disabilities with a surprise holiday gift.
Police Officer Kareem Abdelaziz, 38, and Fire Lieutenant Abdelrahman Abdelaziz, 43, say they grew up with the firm belief that a community is not just a place to live, but rather a home where everyone requires support and love.
That idea began while the brothers worked inside their father’s East Flatbush deli located at 9010 Avenue B, where they were known as helping hands in the area years before they dedicated their lives to public service.
However, on Dec. 13, the brothers didn’t think twice when they were brought back to their roots after learning a longtime friend, Sean Desmangles, was struggling.
When Kareem left for the police academy, Desmangles stepped in to aid the Abdelaziz’s family deli. For years, he not only worked at the deli, but he also became an extended member of the family.
“We worked together in the store and after I became a police officer he was the individual who replaced me,” Kareem said of Desmangles.
Still, life was not easy for the Desmangles family. His son, Niem Desmangles, was born with a blood disease that left the young man unable to talk or walk. So, when the pair moved into a new apartment six months ago, Sean found himself having to hoist his son on his back and carry him up and down the outer stairs leading to the new home.
With Niem recently turning 18, it became quite a struggle for Sean Desmangles to lift his son up and down the stairs every day.
“No more carrying. Nope, I can’t do it no more — getting too old for that,” Desmangles said.
Desmangles put out a call for help, creating a GoFundMe to garner financial support to have a stairlift installed leading up to the home.
The project was spotted by the Abdelaziz brothers, and the pair decided to take action — pooling their savings and paying for the remaining funds needed to install the lift.
“We both thought it was a good idea to contribute to fund this friend of ours who is like a family member,” Kareem Abdelaziz said. “We figured we would do the right thing. On and off the job, we are here to help anyone who needs help.”
Thanks to the Abdelaziz brothers, Dec. marked the final time Desmangles would have to lift his son onto his back and struggle up and down the stairs. By the afternoon, the new stairlift was in place and operational, saving Sean Desmangles the strain of carrying his son up and down the stairs every day.
For the Abdelaziz brothers, it was a gesture reflective of the many lessons they learned from their parents.
“This was our community for 35 years and we just wanted to give back. Our mother and our father taught us to always help the people in our community and give back,” Abdelrahman Abdelaziz said.