Motorists have a great excuse to lay on their horns in O’Hara.
Fourteen-year-old Bill Carney, also known as B’man, sits at the corner of Fox Chapel and Freeport roads in Fox Chapel Plaza several evenings a week.
Soliciting honks, beeps and waves from the driving public.
A large red and white “B’man” sign advertises that he is open to honks and waves at what the family calls his “corner office.” Al Spencer of Pittsburgh didn’t know the Carneys when he showed up one day with the sign he made supporting B’man.
“I cried when Al drove up with that big B’man sign in his Suburban,” said B’man’s mother, Bethany Carney.
B’man and his twin brother, Paul, were born prematurely, with B’man — who has cerebral palsy — weighing just 1 pound, 14 ounces.
“We almost lost the B’man many, many times,” his mother said. “Between the boys, they’ve had over 50 surgeries.”
Bethany Carney said their family enjoys bonding over cars.
“He absolutely loves watching cars,” she said. “The sounds, seeing the different types of cars and everything about them. The B’man has severe cerebral palsy and he understands everything, but can’t control his muscles to do much of anything at all.”
B’man often sports a handmade “Corner Office” T-shirt when he mans his spot in the plaza several nights a week, usually starting around 4:30.
“He wants to head to his corner office every chance he can and absolutely lights up every time we’re there and someone honks,” Bethany Carney said. “Watching cars is great. But when people honk and wave, he knows it’s for him.
“He’s actually involved instead of being sidelined, and he loves it.”
For The Carneys, having a family activity together is meaningful.
“B’man’s never been this happy,” his mother said.
B’man always keeps an eye out for sports cars, but no honks disappoint him.
“We have had Ferraris, Porsches, Maseratis, Mercedes … all sorts,” Bethany Carney said. “We have a lady that works at St. Margaret hospital who rides her scooter and beeps. He loves all beeps and the variety of cars. It doesn’t have to be a sports car.”
O’Hara resident Michele Leonard recently stopped by the corner office to say hello to B’man.
Leonard heard about the campaign that has become known as “BEEP for B’man” through social media and was enthusiastic to make her horn heard to support him.
“I thought it was fantastic. I am totally in support of what he wants and would like to have. I am willing to support this, especially a mom who’s trying to do this for her son,” Leonard said. “All we have to do is blow our horn and he’s thrilled, and that makes us thrilled.”
Bethany Carney checked with the O’Hara police to make sure “BEEP for B’man” was allowed.
“They said as long as no one is breaking any traffic laws, it’s allowed,” he said. “We are on private property, and safety is a priority to us.”
Fox Chapel Plaza managing partner Alex Condron gave the family permission to set up in the plaza.
“Social media brought BEEP for B’man to my attention,” Condron said. “Two weeks ago, I was able to stop by and meet the family.
“I was very touched by the Carney family’s story and the positive reaction this community has had in supporting B’man.”
Tragedy and a medical move
The Carneys originally hail from Grand Rapids, Mich., but in 2016 B’man’s father, Bill Carney, died unexpectedly from a heart attack while away on a business trip.
He was 45.
“His passing was an awful wake-up call,” Bethany Carney said. “My priority changed to picking up the pieces and rebuilding our lives the best we could with just the three of us. We’re still figuring out our new normal.”
She said B’man’s medical options were limited in Michigan, but she found the options in Pittsburgh to be “amazing.”
The family relocated to the Fox Chapel area, enrolling B’man at The Children’s Institute.
Dr. Ozgur Dede, an orthopedic surgeon, performed a spinal fusion on B’man at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in March 2018, a procedure that Bethany described as a “life-changing” one that made her son’s life better.
“Pittsburgh is amazing,” she said. “The health care is phenomenal.”
She said the response to “BEEP for B’man” from the Fox Chapel area community has been overwhelming.
“I never expected this kind of response, and what has happened is awe-inspiring,” Bethany said. “People are posting on social media that they are coming out specifically to beep for B’man to see his face. They’re bringing their kids to come beep for B’man. Fox Chapel and Pittsburghers I have never met are reaching out.”