A reliable van for my daughter

I was born 13 weeks early. I weighed 2Lbs 2oz. The first ten
weeks of my life I remained in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit. When I was able to come home my parents were not able to just put me in a car seat and take me home. I was sent home with machines that would help me get stronger. I could not be out with other people because I got infections so easily. When you are born too early, as I was, your lungs don’t develop properly so I readily get colds and pneumonia. Sometimes when I get pneumonia I have seizures that require me to be hospitalized.
My Name is Amary (A/ mar/ ee). I am now 22 years old. Not too bad for someone who did not have a high survival rate. Over the years I have endured several surgeries to correct my physical limitations. I am not able to walk and have been in a wheel chair since I was three years old. My parents were able to pick me up and put me in the car and then place my wheel chair in the trunk but as I have grown the style of wheel chair that I need has changed and it is not as easy to transport me as it used to be. I now require a van with a lift on it.
My parents got a bank loan and went to a dealership that sells handicap vans. We could not afford the exact van that I needed even in a used model. The salesman offered another van that he claimed we could retro fit with a wheelchair lift. The funds we had available were limited so my parents had no choice except to purchase the van and save some money to have a lift put in. After several months my parents were ready to purchase a lift for the van. My parents would lift me in the van and when it was just my mom or dad we would use wooden boards. Sometimes, my chair with me in it, would fall off because my chair had to be titled back to put me in since the wood boards made entering the van in my chair too high. When my parents went to purchase a lift for our new/used van we were told that a lift could not be put on this type of van. After much frustration and tears, with the help of the PA attorney general my parents were able to get the down payment back but they were still responsible for the bank loan against the van. We had a van, but not one that we could easily transport me in. My family relied on public transportation. That was hard since you have to schedule an appointment for the special van. Our neighborhood church would let us borrow their handicap van for my doctor’s appointments. Later that year we were blessed when a neighbor wanted to sale her full size van that belonged to her deceased husband. The van is eighteen years old but had very low mileage and we could afford the price. Well 10 years have gone by and our “Blessing Van” is still helping transport me. As with every vehicle things go wrong. Currently my van has 180,00 miles on it. The transmission is slipping, it needs a new exhaust system, when it rains it leaks inside, the radiator needs repaired and has no air conditioning (sitting in a wheel chair is really hot especially when you can’t move yourself!). And in the winter the heater doesn't get hot and I have to ride blankets on me.
In the past nine months my life has taken a very sad and dramatic turn. My dad needed a heart transplant. My family went from dealing with my situation to mom having to worry about both of us. Both of my parents worked so this also put a financial hardship on my family. My mother did her best to make sure I was still going to school and day care but that van made it hard for my mom to do by herself making our transportation more difficult. It was the only vehicle we had so we made it work. My dad suffered a minor stroke and started to develop kidney issues. With his health problems he was in and out of hospitals. My dad passed away May 31, 2014 at the age of 53. After his funeral expenses my mom was strapped even more financially but my mom was strong and made sure I was taken care of. I miss my dad very much but I know he is watching over us.
Unfortunately, we still need a van. A van that will help me; A van that I can get in without bending my head since I can’t do that very easily. A van that won’t leak on my head when it rains, or make my clothes smell from exhaust fumes. A van that has heat that works in the winter so my mom does not have to put blankets on me. A van that has air conditioning so my mom does not have to take off my socks and shoes on the way home in the summer because the van is so hot.
I am hoping that my dad will be “my angel” and help me get a van. My mom said we need fifty thousand dollars for a new full size van with a lift. That would such a blessing!
If we are fortunate enough to go over our goal I would like my mom and A&S Federal Credit Union

 to donate the money to Special Olympics in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. I enjoy participating in the annual events at the Special Olympics. They make us feel like we can do whatever we want!
Thank you for taking the time to read about my life!
*Amary can not type. She can verbally communicate although most people have a hard time understanding what she is saying. Together my beautiful daughter and I wrote this.
My thanks and appreciation for your consideration!
Trina ( Amary’s mom) 


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Trina Alford
Aliquippa, PA

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