Posted by Christina Jedra May 16, 2013 12:30 PM
Two disabled Massachusetts residents are one step closer to obtaining a wheelchair accessible van that would ease obstacles in transportation for them and their caretakers.
Chrissy Correia of Boston and Dominick Pacheco of Salem became semi-finalists this week in a National Mobility Awareness Month competition that will award a customized wheelchair accessible van to at least three winners.
Entrants, called “Local Heroes,” were directed to either submit a story and picture or a video that describes the disabled person’s need for such a van. Voters were invited to vote once a day for who they felt was most deserving of the prize. Correia and Pacheco garnered enough votes to place in the top 5 percent of the competition that had around 1,300 entrants from across the United States.
Correia’s contest submission, written by her mother, describes her as a 34-year-old mother of two who was paralyzed below the waist at the age of 3. The story says that despite going through 80 surgeries and having her right leg amputated three years ago, Correia has worked hard to pursue an education and maintain a job. She has not be able to return to school because of financial difficulties and her inability to travel because her 1995 van is “in dire need of replacement.”
“She continues to keep on with a smile never letting anyone know how much she really suffers,” says the submission, which garnered 28,178 votes.
Pacheco’s entry, which includes a photo of the 14-year-old smiling, describes his myriad of medical problems including an anoxic brain injury, cerebral palsy, reflux, and seizures. The story also mentions his vision and communication problems. As Pacheco gets older and heavier, the story says his parents are finding it more difficult to lift him in and out of the car, and a wheelchair accessible van would allow him to spend more time outside the home. Pacheco’s entry, which received 20,778 votes, ended on a positive note.
“Please don’t let my disability fool you; I am a happy young man and can brighten up any room with my infectious smile,” the story says.
As semifinalists, both entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Three finalists will be notified at the end of this month and will appear on a national television show to accept their prize.