These "Local Heroes" need your votes to help them win a wheelchair accessible vehicle. A customized vehicle can easily cost upwards of $50,000 due to the addition of a lift, specialized controls and other modifications.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding mobility options for people with disabilities. They are awarding three deserving “Local Heroes” with a wheelchair accessible vehicle tailored to meet their needs through an online contest. Entrants have submitted either written or videotaped stories of how they are triumphing over their mobility issues through their academic and career ambitions, as well as their family and local community contributions.

Three wheelchair bound individuals from Acadiana need your votes between now and May 10. Winners will be announced May 31, 2013.

Cynthia Welch, from Crowley, entered for her son Cory who has severe cerebral palsy and profound mental retardation, is wheelchair restricted and cannot talk. Read their story and vote here.





Yancy Dionne, from New Iberia, was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II, also known as Werdnig Hoffman’s Disease. Yancy is the owner/graphic artist at Carpe Diem Designs. Read Yancy's story and vote here.





Samuel Gold, from Scott, has Spastic Cerebral Palsy and his 2001 van is still financed but needs major repairs to the lift and the air conditioning. Watch Scott's video and vote here.




To see all the entries, click here:

If you are in need of help getting a wheelchair accessible van, please try these additional resources we have uncovered:

  • Special Kids Foundation is a charitable organization through which you may request a handicapped wheelchair van donation by email. They request certain information included in the email request. Do not call, as they are extremely busy and ask that you please honor the process. Requests may be made for either adults or children. The contact email is: Please include this information in your request:

    1) Specify what kind of mobility van you need.
    2) Please describe the nature of your disability.
    3) List your specific financial needs.
    4) Include your contact information: phone numbers, address, email
    5) Please include the city and state in the subject line

    Once your request is submitted, you will have to demonstrate that you indeed have the financial means to maintain the vehicle. You must also show that you have a good driving record and an active insurance policy. Once you have made your request, the staff will do its best to expedite the process, but they request your patience.

  • Wheelchair Vans For All will set up a 0% or low-interest financing program if you have poor credit, job loss or low income and cannot afford an accessible van. Wheelchair Vans For All offers a loan program instead of a direct donation. The loan vs. donation is based on their philosophy that something paid for is appreciated. They also use your payments to fund new loans for other folks in need.
  • Established in 1996, Free Charity Cars, is a 501(C) (3) non-profit charity with its stated mission “To engage in activities that will uplift humanity”. The organization’s main focus is to provide free donated vehicles to struggling families to assist them in their transition from dependency to self-sufficiency. also says, " If you do not qualify for direct donation and you have tried resources like the American Disability Association, you may try the Mobility Resource. Different dealers around the nation sign up to be members of the Mobility Resource. The company will connect you with dealers in your area who will adapt a van to make it wheelchair friendly. They have a program that offers some financial reimbursement depending on your needs. You must speak with a Mobility Resource Dealer near you to discuss your specific needs. You may call toll-free at 1-866-771-7770 to locate a Mobility Resource Dealer near you."