Having a child with a disability can bring both joy and frustration to life that other families simply do not experience. One issue the parents of children with a physical disability face deals with day-to-day transportation.
Not many vehicles come equipped to handle a wheelchair, and the ones that do may be costly or difficult to come by.
For some parents, their only option is to physically lift the child from their wheelchair to their car seat.
Christine Guerra-Candelaria, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, mom, has been struggling to lift her son in and out of the car every day. She has been doing this for 14 years.
Her son, Matthew, weighs about 70 pounds. As a single mom, she has had no one to help her with this difficult task, and as he grows older, it will only become more difficult.
Thanks to a local business owner, however, Guerra-Candelaria will no longer have to lift her son into the car. Stephen Paternoster, the owner of local Italian restaurant Scalo, decided to donate a handicap van to the family.
The van has a lifting platform to get Matthew into the van and straps that will keep him safely in place. The van will now do all the work for Guerra-Candelaria, which will keep them both safe.
“You give sometimes because it makes you feel good,” Paternoster said in regards to why he donated the van. “In this case, it has made me feel good, and I have a new friend.”
In the video, Paternoster can then be seen giving his new friend a hug. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Guerra-Candelaria said.
Peggy Lovgren, a mom from Stromsburg, Nebraska, has faced similar problems with transporting her sons. Her two teen-aged sons, Parker and Braiden, both have muscular dystrophy. The disease has caused them to lose motor function in their lower bodies.
With both boys growing and using wheelchairs, there was little room for them in the family vehicle. The vehicle also didn’t have a wheelchair lift, making it difficult for them to get in.
Thankfully, the Nebraska Masonic Home in Plattsmouth heard of their situation and was able to donate a handicapped-accessible van.
Lovgren said she can now take them to their monthly doctors’ appointments in Omaha and Lincoln more easily.
Thankfully for these families, someone was willing to lend a helping hand to get them the vehicles they needed. Hopefully, more people will be inspired to help families of children with disabilities in this way!