My Mom has Multiple Sclerosis, and needs a new wheelchair van

My mom has been battling secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis over the last 30 years (I’ve written about her a bit before). Over that time, she went back to school in her 30’s and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, worked as a substitute teacher and home health aide, and raised a son throughout. Unfortunately, she’s been quadriplegic for the last several years; despite this, she lives at home with the help of family and a number of personal heath aides, and maintains an independence and level of energy inspiring to everyone around her, even managing to continue pursuing her greatest passion, writing, now about her day-to-day experience living with MS.

Her current wheelchair van is shown in the photos below. While it’s never been much to look at, it has over the last 10 years been essential in allowing my Mom to go about living her life to the fullest: enjoying concerts and movies, going shopping for food and clothes, seeing doctors of all sorts, and visiting family, especially her mother and her new grandchildren (twin girls, if you hadn’t heard :-)).

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The van was already very used when it was purchased, but my father (a skilled auto mechanic) has thankfully been able to keep it in reasonable running condition. It’s at the end of its road now, though: it needs a new transmission (it can’t go in reverse anymore!), the air conditioning has failed (a serious thing during the summer for someone with MS), and the body has rusted beyond any hope of repair.

So, my mom needs a new wheelchair van. To make this possible, we have set up a fundraising page, aiming to raise $10,000:

We hit our fundraising goal! Read the updates below…

Brand-new wheelchair-accessible vans often top $30,000, but we don’t need anything so fancy. We’re looking to purchase a new-used van in good shape that will last for a long while. We don’t have a particular van in mind yet (though we have been keeping an eye out), so the exact cost is not entirely clear yet. If any funds are left over after purchasing a van, they’ll be used to defray the costs of insurance, taxes, and repairs over the coming years.

(It kills me that I can’t simply take care of this myself without such a public appeal; while my wife and I will absolutely be helping her with this purchase, the realities of recently having bought a house and having twins makes doing so on our own impossible at the moment.)

I, my family, and my mom will be grateful for any little bit you can spare to help!

Update 2015-03-22

My mom’s birthday was a few days ago, but we all gathered to celebrate today. She knew about the fundraiser before, but didn’t know how far we had gotten until this afternoon (60% toward our goal!). She wanted to record a few words to pass along to everyone that had helped so far, whether by giving generously, or sharing the fundraiser via Twitter, Facebook, and other channels:

Update 2015-03-25

In just four days, we’ve reached the goal for our fundraiser! It will be hard to sufficiently thank everyone that helped, either by donating, or by sharing the effort with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I’m incredibly grateful to the various communities that pitched in, moreso than I can readily express at the moment. Of course, my mom is similarly amazed, and looking forward to being able to get around far more easily and comfortably!

We will be shutting down the fundraiser properly later today, pending tying up a few loose ends with the site that’s hosting it. We’ll also be periodically putting out updates, especially once we have found and acquired a suitable van.

Thank you so, so much. <3

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