Wheels for John Paul

$33,997 of $33,997 goal

Raised by 129 people in 7 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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As of February 4, 2019 we have reached our goal and are no longer accepting donations to Wheels for John Paul. Many thanks to all those who helped make our lives, and John Paul's life much easier. You will be in our prayers from here on out.



Today, January 24, 2019 we purchased a 2014 wheelchair accessible van for John Paul.  Many thanks to all those who donated and prayed for this campaign.  We have decided to keep the campaign open for another month because several people have told us they still wish to donate, and we would very much like to purchase an extended warranty for the van.  The cost of the warranty depends on the coverage, all the way from $2677 for 48 months / 24,000 miles up to $4448 for 60 months / 100,000 miles.  The warranty includes literally everything and has a low $100 deductible.  We have added several thousand dollars to our goal to include the warranty.  Which warranty we purchase will depend on the donations we receive.  Thank you to all who donated, will donate, or prayed for this cause! 

Here is a picture of the van:


John Paul McKenzie is a survivor. Permanently disabled from birth, John Paul cannot walk due to cerebral palsy. He has the dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and severe autism with aphasia (the inability to speak). He also has hydrocephalus (managed with a shunt), and an ileostomy (like a colostomy, except on his small intestine). In addition, John Paul is blind and partially deaf, and is fed and receives his medicines through a g-tube. Despite these challenges, at age twenty-two John Paul is happy, calm and engaged in life. We treasure the gift he is.

John Paul's life at home is divided between bed, a rocking chair and his wheelchair. He requires twelve hours of nursing care everyday to keep him clean, healthy and properly nourished. You would think that this would severely depress him but John Paul is the opposite. He adores music and insists on listening during all his waking hours. Despite his limitations he reaches out to those around him as best he can, listening for familiar treads, sounds and voices, and often calling out a garbled version of their owner's name. Your response often elicits joyful chuckles from him and sometimes exclamations. Even when resting he is apt to laugh quietly to himself. What we, his parents, would not give to know what is going through his mind at times like this!

John Paul was actually not expected to live for more than a few days by the medical staff when he was born eight weeks prematurely. Buoyed by the prayers of hundreds of well-wishers and expert neonatal care he proved them wrong, however, and at 22 years old he is thriving today.

John Paul's numerous medical needs have always required specialized transportation, not only for scheduled visits but also for unexpected trips to the emergency room and simple recreation. Our 1995 wheelchair-accessible van has gotten us this far, and was adequate when he was a small child, but now it is almost impossible to maneuver his much larger wheelchair in its cramped spaces, and frequent repair costs have become a real problem for us.

For these reasons we have our hearts set on a new wheelchair-accessible van for John Paul. Because he cannot drive and must be driven by another person, we realize that a rear entry van would be the perfect solution. There would be no need for a lift, or to find a handicapped parking space, and no need to struggle to turn his wheelchair ninety degrees after getting him in the van. We would just roll him up the ramp and lock him into position.

We entered John Paul in a contest two years ago to try to win a new wheelchair-accessible van for him. To participate in the contest we recruited hundreds of people who were willing to vote for John Paul daily for several weeks. We did very well, coming in among the top ten percent of contestants, but were not among the three finalists.

Many people who voted for John Paul encouraged us to set up a gofundme campaign to buy him a new van. Well, after sitting out for awhile to catch our breath, that is exactly what we have decided to do. We anticipate that buying a new rear-entry wheelchair-accessible van for John Paul will cost $70,000, including sales tax, license, title and fees. We would love to have a new van so that it will be with us as long as possible, and we won't have to face this challenge again for a long time, but if we raise less than the full amount we will purchase a used wheelchair-accessible, rear-entry van for John Paul.

(January 19,2019 note: This is indeed what has happened.  We found a beautiful 2014 wheelchair accessible van for $28,410 and, thanks to private donations are close to having the money to buy it.  We need $5044 by Thursday, January 24, 2019, which is the last date which the dealer could guarantee us exclusive access.  See our latest update for more details)

We think John Paul deserves the best, but we would think that, wouldn't we? We cherish this sweet boy, now a man, who has taught us great lessons in love and patience. John Paul has hundreds of fans all over our community – has had them since his very first day of life. Many of them tell us they still pray for him every day.

We are offering this prayer, this opportunity, to them and anyone else who is moved to assist John Paul to get the mobility he needs to help maintain health, recreation and sunshine in his life. Thank you for reading this and thank you for any help you can send our way!
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As of February 4, 2019 we have reached our goal and are no longer accepting donations to Wheels for John Paul. Many thanks to all those who helped make our lives, and John Paul's life much easier. You will be in our prayers from here on out.
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If you saw our last update you know that we expected to have our wheelchair accessible van by now (Saturday, January 19, 2019). But there has been an unexpected change. We have made our selection, a beautiful 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan wheelchair accessible van that has only 26,000 miles on it. We took John Paul for a ride in it and he rocked and squealed throughout the entire ride. Apparently he really likes the space and the sounds within it. Does he know it might be his someday? We wonder.

The reason we have not yet acquired the van is that we have received a donation from our Archdiocese here in St. Louis for $10,000 towards John Paul's van! As you can imagine this changes everything. We now realize that we are only $5044 away from what we need to buy the van, and that it may not be necessary to trade-in our Honda CR-V after all.

The dealer was kind enough to reserve the van for us for five more days, or until next Thursday, before advertising to the general public. We have currently raised $23,666. The cost of the wheelchair accessible van is $28,410. If we can somehow raise the remaining $5044 by then we will be able to buy the van straight-out.

Many of you have already donated and for that we are extremely grateful, and we do not expect anyone who has donated to donate again. However there may be people reading this who hesitated before but are now in a better position to help. In addition there may be people reading this who can suggest a funding source that we are unaware of, such as our Archdiocese of St. Louis, which was suggested to us by a friend.

If you have an idea please let us know at billmckenzie2@gmail.com. Remember, we must buy the van by Thursday, January 24th. We are very excited about the potential for this van to open up the world to John Paul. Perhaps you can help or you know someone with whom you can share this campaign. Maybe you can even be the one to put us over the top!

God bless you and thank you. Please remember this intention in your prayers as we remember yours.
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It is one month since we kicked off our GoFundMe campaign to buy John Paul a new wheelchair accessible van. In that time we have raised $11,640 towards our goal of $70,000. We are so grateful to the 82 individuals and organizations that have donated to this campaign. Our hearts, thanks and prayers go out to everyone involved.

As donations have gradually tapered off however we realize that it is time to make a selection and purchase. We will buy a used wheelchair accessible van for John Paul, not a new one, and we will trade in our family car, a 2014 Honda CRV as part of this purchase. John Paul's handicap accessible van will also serve as our family automobile.

We have been shopping and will select our van by early next week. We know what is available at the different price points and what we can obtain from our trade-in. We have learned that there is a lot of value in these used vehicles because of the limited demand for wheelchair accessible vans compared to standard vans. We can see that with a modest surge in our campaign we will be able to buy a good vehicle with low mileage that will be with us for a long time.

Therefore as we reach the last few days of this campaign we encourage anyone who has been waiting to wait no longer. Any last minute donations we receive will enable us to purchase the best possible used van, pay for taxes and fees, and help us avoid the need to borrow additional funds.

Thank you for any help you can give. Please keep John Paul in your prayers and share this message with sympathetic friends and family. God bless!
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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Everyone! We have really been enjoying the season this year with family and friends. We're still gong strong and we're not ready to give it up yet!
In our last update we promised to show you the unique way we bathe John Paul. I'll include a photo of his Christmas bath. He's too big to get into the bathroom and into the tub, besides, he lives on the first floor and the tub is on the second floor. He gets a bed bath everyday from his nurses and we give him a full-scale bath about once a month. It's quite a time consuming and tiring process for us or we would do it more often.
First, it is important that his bedroom is right next to the kitchen. We sit him on a stool in a large Rubbermaid Commercial Structural Foam Tilt Truck. It is the kind of thing you see janitorial staff using to take large quantities of refuse to the dumpster at schools and other organizations, and it works perfectly as a rolling bathtub. We then wheel him into the kitchen where we have a hose with a shower head attached to the faucet.
We thoroughly shampoo his hair and wash his body, all the while spraying him with warm water to keep him comfy. Fortunately for us, John Paul likes to lock his legs straight ahead due to his Cerebral Palsy and rest them on a ledge at the end of the Tilt Truck. This keeps his feet out of the waste water that collects in a well at the bottom.
We then simply dry him off and roll him back to his bedroom and transfer him to his bed where we put on his ostomy pouch, diapers and clothes. It's a really effective process and has kept his skin in great condition for many years!
We are hoping that donations for John Paul's van will pick up now that the Christmas season is winding down and new money becomes available in people's budgets. With all the distractions of Christmas, donations slowed down considerably. We would appreciate you sharing this campaign with friends and family so that we can begin trending up again. Remember, no amount is too small. Thanks for everything!
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$33,997 of $33,997 goal

Raised by 129 people in 7 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Chris and Mary Rose DeCock
5 months ago (Offline Donation)
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Archdiocese of St. Louis
5 months ago (Offline Donation)
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Kevin and Noreen McCann
5 months ago (Offline Donation)
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Bast Family
5 months ago
Michael Burke
5 months ago
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