Blakers competing to win a van 2013.04.10

Written by David Green.

wade.blakerBailey Blaker knows it’s a long shot, but for the sake of her family she’s going after the prize.

Bailey learned about the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) Life Moving Forward campaign and the opportunity to win a wheelchair-accessible van during National Mobility Awareness Month.

All it takes to enter the contest is a submission on the NMEDA website, telling why your family’s situation is deserving of a prize—one of three new vans valued at $40,000 each. All it takes to win is the support of friends and even strangers who vote for their favorite entry.

The reason it’s a long shot is because there are hundreds of entries and some candidates have collected votes numbering in the thousands. The Blaker family’s tally stood at 366 Monday afternoon—well ahead of many, but still far short of the leaders.

Supporters are allowed one vote per day, so even though Morenci is a small town, a concerted effort by area residents would make a big difference. A couple of thousand votes a day could make it happen.

“But really all we need to do is get into the top five percent and then judges decide by the stories who will win,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s mother, Laura, submitted the following essay for the contest: 

“I am writing this because I am desperately in need of a handicap accessible van. I am 38 years old and am the proud mother three children, one of which is a 16-year-old with non-verbal cerebral palsy. My son Wade is a very lively boy who loves going on family trips around our local area, but these types of experiences have had to be very limited because of our transportation situation.

I purchased a used handicap accessible van recently, but it turned out to be a total lemon. The van has several rust holes in the floor; some of them are as big as a watermelon. The rust is so bad that it is beyond repair. Our van fills with dirt and mud whenever we drive down the country road that we live on, and because of this the doors on our van don’t stay shut and often slide open while we are driving.

If we were to receive this van, Wade would not be the only one in my family to benefit from it. For the last 10 years I have been also taking care of my younger brother Tony who has chronic scoliosis; he and Wade are both in wheelchairs.

Our family used to go on road trips all over our state of Michigan, but because of the worsening condition of our van we haven’t been able to in the past few years. The poor condition of our van has made even the most necessary trips almost impossible. Wade needs Botox injections every few months to keep his muscles from tightening too much. The nearest hospital for these types of procedures is an hour and a half drive from our house. These trips, that are essential for Wade’s health, are made very difficult because of the ramp on our van that has to be pulled up and down with a broken piece of seatbelt.

I have looked into prices of other vans, but there is no way financially that we could ever afford a new van on our own. If my family were to receive this generous prize it would mean everything to us, especially for my son. Wade is a growing boy and we desperately need a van that we can use for years to come. Thank you for considering my family for this wonderful opportunity.”

Bailey has read through many of the entries and she knows a lot of good will come out of the contest even if her brother isn’t one of the top three.

“Whoever wins this competition will truly deserve this van,” she said, “so it’s all good.”

• The website for voting can be found at In the search bar, look for Laura Blaker.

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