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Woodridge family shares story of challenge in effort to win handicap-accessible van

Published: Monday, April 22, 2013 12:23 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:51 a.m. CDT

WOODRIDGE – While any wife and mother works hard to take care of her husband and children, very few have to go through what Laura Schultz does every day.

The Woodridge woman has three children, two of whom have physical disabilities. Her youngest daughter, Rebecca, 18, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 11, and her oldest daughter, Krystina, 23, has a severely debilitating rare genetic disorder that confines her to a bed and wheelchair.

And her husband, Jerry, 54, also has MS and is legally blind.

“Each day is a challenge, there is no doubt about it,” Schultz said. “ But I have seen it all, and gone through it all with my family. I do it because I have I have to.”

Schultz said Krystina is in a “toddler-like” state – she cannot walk or talk, and can only feed herself soft finger food, as she has trouble chewing.

Meanwhile, Schultz has to help her husband get dressed and get him ready for the day. He uses a wheelchair to get around.

Rebecca also has frequent MS flare-ups that sometimes require her to use a wheelchair as well.

As far as how she gets through it all, Schultz said she believes God has always put her in a position to help others, and her family’s situation is no exception.

“You just do. As bad as things have been – and every month it’s something – it can always be worse,” Schultz said. “It’s debilitating, but it’s not as bad as it could be. We’re all here. We’re still a family.”

The family, of course, could use help.

That’s why they’re giving their best shot at winning a brand-new handicap-accessible van as part of a contest from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

May is National Mobility Awareness Month, and as part of a program to help those with special needs get around, the NMEDA is giving local families in need a chance to win a handicapped-accessible vehicle.

Dubbed the Local Heroes program, people from communities across the country are competing in the contest, which has entrants telling their stories, and web users voting for the top 10 families they deem most in need.

Anyone can vote once a day through May 11, and winners will be announced at the end of May.

The top 10 vote-getters then go before a panel of judges who decide the winner, according to NMEDA. Last year, more than 1,700 entries were received nationwide.

“Having a van like this would be such a wonderful thing, as we have a van now with a lift, but it doesn’t really suit the needs of my family anymore,” she said. “A new van like this could cost more than $60,000, and we are just trying to get our story out there, so we have a chance for it.”

To vote for the Schultz family of Woodridge, visit www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/laura-schultz-woodridge-il/.

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