A Surrey mother is “overwhelmed” by the support she’s received in her quest to purchase an accessible vehicle to better support her son.
Stacey Merrick said it’s out of character for her to ask for help, but transporting her six-year-old son Jay in her current vehicle was starting to become a dangerous task.
Jay was born with a genetic disorder that required brain surgery when he was two weeks old. He struggled to meet milestones growing up, and just last year was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Merrick said it’s very unlikely he will ever walk.
“He has made so much improvement. He never used to be able to sit, and now he’s finally sitting at six years old. He couldn’t crawl or scoot, and then he’s like, ‘Watch this, guys,’ and started army crawling. He’s definitely made leaps and bounds in progress,” she said.
Merrick described Jay as the “cutest little ray of sunshine” who is one of the most popular kids in his school.
“He’s got a crazy personality, just like me. He’s so happy. I can literally take him everywhere, I can do anything with him. He’s so happy all of the time.”
Merrick said raising Jay has been made a much easier experience due to his personality.
“I thank my lucky stars on that,” she said. “With all of the issues that we’ve gone through, if it was any other way it would have been a different, harder story. But instead, it’s like I got this, I’m OK because of him being so positive, happy. It’s so cool.”
One challenge that has been increasingly difficult, she said, is transportation.
“Right now I’m lifting him in and out of the car. It’s not safe,” Merrick said. “What kind of had me at a breaking point was I almost dropped him. I was like OK, I am little…. I can’t continue to lift him as I do.”
Merrick started a GoFundMe page, asking for financial assistance so she can purchased a used, modified van that includes a manual ramp. As of Monday (Nov. 1) morning, the fundraiser had collected $8,775 of its $10,000 goal.
What’s “mind blowing,” she said, is that there’s little to no financial assistance available from the government to purchase accessible vehicles.
“I’ve done research for months, there is no funding for that,” she said.
She said funding that is available is for converting an existing van into an accessible vehicle.
“But that means you need to go out and buy a new van, which is going to cost like $30,000 and then pay $15,000 to $17,000 on top of that for modification. And the funding available is ‘Oh, here’s $1,000.’ That’s great, $1,000 is better than nothing, but you need to pay $17,000 plus the cost of a van. It’s pointless.”
Watching the fundraiser take off, as quickly as it did, has been a “super emotional” experience, Merrick added.