Buy Georgia an Accessible VAN!

Here's a 6-minute intro video to Georgia and why she needs a van.


And for those who want to learn more, here's a 23-minute version of the video loaded with more clips of Georgia and stories from her family and friends!


Hello, Sarah & Jamie here.
 
We're organizing this fundraiser to help the remarkable Georgia Reed move into adulthood able to work and play outside her home. You see, Georgia is turning 22 in December, and will graduate from U32's Transition Academy on her birthday. She needs her power wheelchair to get about, and she needs a van capable of transporting her and her chair, to navigate life in the community.
 
 
 
But let us give you a brief history. Georgia was born to John and Pam Connell in December 1999. Two weeks later, on her first outing with her mom, her car collided with a plow truck. Georgia and her mom were rushed to Copley hospital where John sat by Pam's side as she passed, and Georgia was quickly transferred to Burlington. After Pam died, John rushed to be with Georgia, at which time they were airlifted to Boston.  The accident caused a cervical fracture and a severe brain bleed which has led to a lifelong seizure disorder and range of other debilitating conditions. John dedicated the remainder of his life to helping Georgia survive and thrive.
 
When Georgia was about 5 years old, John married Josie, who adopted G and has been the only mother she has ever known. For seven years Georgia lived with John and Josie, and her two new siblings, Silas and Sierra.  Together as a family, they navigated the complicated but rewarding world of Georgia's care.
 
 
Sadly. John drowned in a tragic boating accident in July of 2012, when Georgia was just 12 years old. Several years later, Josie married Ben Reed, who has since adopted Georgia and played an important role in managing Georgia's complex medical needs. Today, Silas and Sierra have grown to adulthood, and Georgia lives happily with Josie, Ben, and her precious 5-year-old sister, Clara.
 

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Over the last 21 years, Georgia has undergone more than 20 brain and spinal surgeries to repair or mitigate damage from her accident and control her seizure disorder. Among her many surgeries she's had 4 shunts, several of which have needed replacement or adjustment. She's also had a Hemispherectomy, a complete severing of the two sides of her brain along with the removal of part of her left frontal lobe - a surgery designed to bring her seizure disorder in check. Her medical needs have been complicated and several times have led to months long hospital and rehab stays.  Many hard decisions have had to be made throughout the years and she will likely always need 24/7 eyes on care and assistance with basic needs of daily living.
 
 
Through all this, Georgia remains a cheerful, charming and engaged young lady. She loves helping out with cooking and gardening, maintains an email correspondence with numerous friends and family, has a core team of dedicated caregivers, and loves her volunteer jobs at the Kellogg Hubbard Library, Food Bank and the Granite Museum.  
 
 
She has volunteered at these organizations for several years through Transition Academy, a community-based program for young adults (18 - 21 years of age) with developmental disabilities. While enrolled at U32, the school has provided transportation for Georgia to and from work with their accessible van. Sadly, the U32 van will not be available for Georgia's use as of her 22nd birthday - December 22, 2021.  

Georgia truly cherishes the times she can engage with folks in public and feel like she is helping others.  After a whole life of not having much about her life in her own control, Georgia thrives when she can control some aspect of her surroundings.  Having her power chair, which has a standing feature, allows her a level of bodily autonomy that she has never really experienced before.  Now that she has experienced the freedom of her own mobility, when she's unable to bring her power chair and instead needs to be wheeled around every time she wants to move about, she tends to be far less engaged and more checked out and depressed.   It's been such a rewarding experience for her, and her loved ones, to see the joy mobility brings her!

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It's amazing how she lights up and truly engages with her surroundings when she has the control to move about without assistance.  Having a van of her own that allows her to load and unload herself, and bring her powerchair with her everywhere she goes, will be a gamechanger for Georgias ability to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
 
 
 
 
Josie's current van, which has a rear entry lift for her old powerchair, no longer works for Georgia's new powerchair, the one that allows her a lot more flexibility, mobility, and independence. A side entry van with a ramp will allow Georgia to drive herself up a ramp and into the side door where she can be buckled in and ride in her own power chair, eliminating the need for her caregivers to physically lift her into and out of the vehicle - no small task now that she's a big, strong adult!
 
 
Josie has been working with the kind folks at Mobility Works in Burlington to find and adapt a Chrysler Voyager that will meet Georgia's transportation needs for years to come. Our goal is to come together as the community that knows, loves and supports Georgia, to help Josie and Ben purchase such a van.
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Josie is applying for grants which will help defray the costs of long-term upkeep and maintenance, but unfortunately such grants won't help with the upfront costs, we are trying to raise the $60,000 to help Ben and Josie purchase a van for Georgia, and ensure she can maintain her cherished community connections. She is so sweet and social, and it would be terribly sad if they were no longer able to transport her with the power chair she needs to move about independently.
 
 
 
Thanks ever so much for your help! 

Organizer and beneficiary

Sarah Gallagher 
Organizer
East Montpelier, VT
Josie Reed 
Beneficiary
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