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The Kindest Gift I've Received as a Person With a Disability

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You meet all kinds of people when you have cerebral palsy. Some people aren’t so nice, some make you feel uncomfortable and some are kind. Someone asked me recently what was the kindest thing someone did for me. Immediately, getting my wheelchair accessible van.

It is not a secret that I’m a strong believer in God having an ultimate plan. However, the plan isn’t always easy or clear to me and I feel unsure. Sometimes when you least expect it and life looks bleak, something absolutely amazing happens. It can actually change your life forever.

Back a few years ago, my wheelchair accessible van had some serious issues and had been draining our financial resources.  Every few months something serious broke on the van that made it not safe to drive until it was fixed. I remember clearly one night I woke up from my sleep in a cold sweat from worrying what would happen if the van would break down or be no longer drivable. How would I get my kids where they needed to go? How would I simply do my day-to-day errands? How can I keep my kids safe?

For someone who uses a wheelchair, getting a vehicle is a lot more complicated than for someone without a wheelchair. A modified van for a wheelchair user costs about double or triple the price of a non-modified vehicle. Cost is the main reason that many people do not have a vehicle they actually need. You also need to find something that can handle your wheelchair, and if you drive, you need the right hand controls.

The year my van had the most trouble, I entered a contest to win a new accessible van.  For the contest, you needed to write a piece about why the van was needed in your life. Then you needed to ask people to vote for your story every day for about a month. I had an excellent turnout of people to vote for me. I am still very thankful to everyone who took the time to vote every day.

My mother-in-law shared my story with other family members and asked them to vote for me.   Through her communication with family members, a cousin of my father-in-law sent the link to my story to her all of her friends. One of her friends happen to own a new wheelchair accessible van she no longer needed. She happened to be in the beginning of the process to donate it to Wounded Warriors, but after hearing my story, she wanted to donate the van to me. The only stipulation she required was to meet me!

You can imagine how excited my family and I felt. A huge prayer had been answered, and it felt terrific. The woman lived about three hours away from us, so we needed to plan childcare so we could go. A friend of mine slept over with Jason and Laura so we could leave early in the morning. We left about six in the morning with my father-in-law because it was his cousin that knew the woman with the van.

Meeting this woman was truly an honor in itself. She lived her life to help others by building playgrounds for children in need. She even built multiple orphanages for children in Haiti. Just talking to her was well worth the drive.

When I first saw the van, I felt like laughing and crying because I felt so elated. It honestly felt like I won the lottery. The van itself has everything I could possibly need and is perfect. A huge weight and worry had been lifted off me. After a great lunch with my husband’s family, Jeff and I drove my new van back home.

Even now, a few years later, as I use my van, I’m in awe that this really happened and the van is mine. Kindness is an awesome thing, and I try to be kind daily because this was the most kind  thing that ever happened to me.

Getty image by Kalinovskiy.
Originally published: February 23, 2018
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