Jacksonville teen hopes to win handicap accessible van

By Ryne Turke on May 15, 2016 at 8:45am

A 14-year-old Jacksonville girl, suffering from a genetic nerve disorder, is making her third attempt at winning a handicap-accessible van.

Lizzie Chamberlain was nominated as a Local Hero earlier this month and entered into the national contest sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

Lizzie’s mother, Lori Chamberlain, says an accessible van would make an incredible difference in her daughter’s life.

“Well Lizzie has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. With this disease, her muscles will waste away. In order for her to leave the house and do anything, she is at the point where she needs to use her power wheelchair. In order to move the power wheelchair, you need to have an accessible van. New vans start at $60,000. In order for her to go out and be a normal teenager, she is going to need a way to get her power chair around,” Lori says.

Lori says the current method of transportation for Lizzie, a Dodge Minivan with a heavy metal ramp, is a difficult process.

“She has to get out of the chair and into the backseat. She is not able to do that anymore. She has lost enough strength where she can’t physically get out of the chair. We can’t transport her power chair anymore. She has to have a manual chair to get anywhere. That takes away all of her independence. She relies solely on people to push her around. Because of the disease, she has low muscle in her upper arms, so she can’t even roll herself,” says Lori.

You can vote for Lizzie once a day through the end of the month. The three highest vote getters will be awarded vans. You can vote for Lizzie here.