An Oak Grove Elementary family is seeking help in getting a wheelchair accessible van for their child.
Mary Barnett is the mother third-grader Abby, one of many students who is dropped off and picked up each day at the school.
However, for Mary and Abby, it involves more than simply opening the door on the family SUV.
Abby, who suffers from a number of physical and mental ailments that are the result of a traumatic brain injury caused by “shaken baby syndrome,” must be lifted from her car seat into her whee chair.
The family vehicle used to transport Abby is a 2009 Chevrolet Suburban.
“Physically, it is becoming harder,” Mary said noting that Abby currently weighs 70 pounds.
While Abby is unable to speak, and has limited communication ability, Mary said her body is developing normally, meaning she will eventually be between five to six feet tall and weigh more than 100 pounds. “It is absolutely wearing my body down.”
“Abby is a very good eater, so she will definitely continue to gain weight,” Mary said.
“She will require total care all of her life,” Mary added noting Abby doesn’t use her hands and wears diapers.
“Medically, doctors believe she is still in an infant stage,” Mary said.
Because of her husband’s work schedule, Mary said when it comes to getting Abby to and from school, she is on her own.
In addition, as Abby continues to grow, it will become impossible to fit her into the back seat of the Suburban in her car seat.
In an effort to make it easier for Abby to travel with the family, Mary said they are working to raise funds to purchase the van.
“We have been working on this since May,” Mary said noting a t-shirt sale has been held, and there is currently a gofundme page.
In addition, a checking account has been opened at Hometown Bank where donations may be deposited.
Mary said a vehicle already converted will cost between $30,000 and $60,000.
Mary said Abby is constantly on the go with the rest of the family that also includes four other children, whether it is to Walmart or out to eat.
“She participates in absolutely everything,” Mary said noting while Abby is non-verbal, she can interact with people through laughs and smiles, and is learning to use an eye gaze program on a computer.
“Abby has been a blessing,” Mary said.
More information is available by contacting Mary Barnett on Facebook or going to the “Help Abby get a wheelchair accessible” vehicle gofundme page.