You meet all kinds of people when you have cerebral palsy. Some people aren’t so nice and some make you feel uncomfortable, but others are kind. Someone asked me recently what was the kindest thing someone had done for me. Immediately, I responded, getting my wheelchair-accessible van.
It is not a secret that I’m a strong believer in God having an ultimate plan. But 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.
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, which made it unsafe to drive until it was fixed. I remember clearly one night I woke up from my sleep in a cold sweat, worrying what would happen if the van would break down or no longer be driveable. How would I get my kids where they needed to go? How would I 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 who does not. A modified van for a wheelchair user can cost double or triple the price of a non-modified vehicle. Cost is the main reason many people do not have a vehicle. You also need to find something that can accommodate 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 an essay on why the van was necessary 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 members of the family 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 all of her friends. One of her friends happened to own a new wheelchair-accessible van that she no longer needed. She was beginning 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; we needed to plan childcare so we could go. A friend slept over with Jason and Laura so we could leave early in the morning. We left about 6 a.m. with my father-in-law, because it was his cousin who knew the woman with the van.
Meeting this woman was truly an honor in itself. She lives to help others by building playgrounds for children in need. She even built 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 had won the lottery. The van 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 to reflect this, the kindest thing that has happened to me.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.