Having a child with a disability can bring happiness and a certain amount of uniqueness to life that is simply not experienced by other families. One issue deals with day-to-day transportation for children with a physical disability face. Not many vehicles come equipped to handle a wheelchair, and they can be expensive or hard to get through.
The only option for some parents is to physically lift the child to their car seat from their wheelchair. Christine Guerra-Candelaria, a mom from Albuquerque, New Mexico, struggled every day to lift her son in and out of the car. She’s done this for fourteen years with her son, Matthew, who weighs approximately 70 pounds. She had no one to help her with this difficult task as a single mom, and as he gets older, it’s only going to get harder.
Thanks to a local business owner, however, Guerra-Candelaria won’t have to lift her son into the car any longer. Stephen Paternoster, the owner of local Italian restaurant Scalo, made the decision to donate a handicap van to the family.
The van has a lifting area to get Matthew into the van and sturdy 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 and sound in the car.
“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 short video, Paternoster can then be seen giving his new pal a hug. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Guerra-Candelaria said.
Peggy Lovgren, a mom from Stromsburg, Nebraska, has faced a few similar issues 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 getting bigger 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 about 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 without stress.
Thankfully for these families, someone was willing to offer 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!