She didn’t win the contest but she won a lot of hearts
Eight year old Kyla Hartigan was born 12 weeks premature, spent 16 weeks in the NICU and fought every day to stay with us. As a result of her prematurity, she was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy. Her family had been using a hoist-style lift in their van to pick up and transport her 240 pound K300 Permobil power wheelchair. Her mother Margie would pick up Kyla to get her transferred, seated and buckled in. This solution worked for a few years, but as Kyla kept getting older, their need for a wheelchair accessible van kept getting greater.
In May of 2013, the family learned about the National Mobility Awareness Month Van Giveaway contest by NMEDA* where three lucky winners would be given a van. Kyla entered the essay contest and made it as a semi-finalist in the online voting process.
Margie Hartigan wrote in her first essay:
“What most people take for granted, like a quick trip to the store, is so time consuming for us. Sometimes her chair can’t even travel with us and she has to be carried. A wheelchair accessible vehicle would be life-changing for this little girl who inspires so many others.”
Unfortunately, Kyla did not when the van. The family decided to hold off one more year to find another solution since mom could still pick up her daughter. Not to be deterred, they decided to enter the NMEDA sponsored contest in 2014. Again, they made it as a semi-finalist but were not chosen not win a vehicle. Ugh!
During this time, they were making a lot more connections within the community. Margie “liked” a Facebook page about a clothing company that uses kids with disabilities to model for their clothing. The owner of the company contacted Margie and asked her to bring Kyla to their farm. The owners immediately fell in love with Kyla and spent hours talking to her about everything under the sun. After they found out about her not winning the contest, the clothing company owners wanted to help Kyla and her family. They were so in love with Kyla and her family that they decided to purchase her a new van.
Not knowing where to start, they first contacted a Dodge dealership to purchase them a new minivan and wheelchair lift. The Dodge dealer then contacted MobilityWorks to get pricing on the lift. Nick Cortino, the General Manager of our Plainfield store got the call. He immediately spoke to the dealer about making sure that we could get Kyla to our facility so that we could do a full “needs analysis” to find the right solution for the family, one that fit her specific type of wheelchair, the family’s travel requirements and ramp or lift preferences. The Auto Dealer agreed and Nick was able to reach out to the clothing store owners and to the Hartigan family. He was able to determine that the best long-term solution would be a 2013 Chrysler Town & Country Limited with a VMI Northstar in-floor ramp conversion. And they love it!
Congratulations to Kyla and the Hartigan family! We were so glad to be a part of making your life a little easier.
*Editor’s Note: NMEDA stands for the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. MobilityWorks is an active NMEDA member and a Quality Assurance Program (QAP) provider.