Posted at: 09/20/2012 4:53 PM
| Updated at: 09/21/2012 1:44 PM
By: Benita Zahn
"Give me a V! Give me an A! Give me an N! What's that spell? VAN!"
With his nurse Molly Holm leading the cheer, Stephen Thomas is about the see his birthday present - a new van. The specially outfitted ride will make a road trip of any distance less painful and help open the world for this 11-year-old.
"Oh my God!" he screamed.
Stephen's been waiting for this for months.
"What do you think, Stephen?" his grandmother asked.
"My mouth is down to the floor," he replied.
Stephen suffers from epidermolysis bullosa - EB for short. It's a rare genetic disease that leaves his skin so fragile, the slightest touch can cause it to blister and peel. Getting in an out of a regular sized car had become painful.
The folks at Mobility Works in Albany helped Stephen's grandparents -- with whom he lives, Julie and John Meacher -- get the vehicle and make sure they know how to use all the bells and whistles.
Because travel had become so uncomfortable, long trips were sacrificed. But now, with that trouble in the rear view mirror, Stephen's got his sites set on Boston and the aquarium.
"Oh my gosh I just can't believe it," he said.
Community support insured there would be a van for Stephen. To offset the $60,000 price tag his grandparents relied on fundraising, which so far has brought in $20,000. They also qualified for a $14,000 state grant.
So before they turn the key and rev the engine for the first time, Stephen has something to say: "I just have so many thank yous, I just can't explain."
You can donate to the fund for the van at any First NIAGARA Bank.