A Tucson family needs the public’s help to win a new customized wheelchair accessible vehicle to make it easier to transport their 17-year-old son.
In honor of National Mobility Month, the National Mobility Equipment Dealer’s Association (NMEDA) is hosting an online contest that will help members enjoy active, mobile lifestyles.
The contest, “A Local Hero,” was announced in April. The contest is aimed at recognizing community members who are dealing with, or overcoming mobility challenges. Online voting will continue through May 13, where NMEDA hopes to find three Local Heroes, and reward each of them with a custom wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Hoping to be one of the three chosen is the Preble family.
Sue Preble said she and her husband, Craig, have three sons together, including Chad who is wheelchair bound.
Almost 17 years ago, Preble said she went into premature labor with twins, Chad and Connor. At six months, the boys were born and weighed in at just over a pound. Both boys were given less than a 25 percent chance of survival.
However, Preble said 83 long and scary days later the boys got to go home.
After a while, Preble said they started noticing that Chad wasn’t developing like a typical child. After being referred to a specialist, at eight-months-old, Chad was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.
Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe from of cerebral palsy in which all four limbs and the trunk are affected. Children with spastic quadriplegia usually have several compounded disabilities including mental retardation, problems with muscles that control the mouth and tongue, and difficulty in speaking. Some children with quadriplegia also suffer from hemiparetic tremors; an uncontrollable shaking that affects the limbs on one side of the body and impairs normal movement.
After diagnosis, Preble said Chad began physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. All of which he continues today.
“Chad is a very smart young man, and loves to go to school each day,” said Preble. “He oftentimes wants to go walk around the mall or Target or Wal-Mart. He just enjoys being where the action is.”
Chad turns 17 on May 2, and while Preble said he doesn’t weigh a lot, the difficulty of lifting him in and out of his wheelchair, or Hot Rod, is getting harder due to his length. The strength in her own hands is also becoming a problem, Preble noted.
“I was recently diagnosed with severe arthritis in both of my thumbs, leaving them very weak at times,” she said. “Once I have Chad out of his Hot Rod, I must then place him in his car seat in our aging SUV. Then, I must take his 70-pound Hot Rod apart and lift it into the back of our SUV. Most of the time I am alone, and have to do this myself.”
Preble said it takes a long time to get Chad load and unloaded and simple errands can take a long time. By having a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the proud mother said life could become so much easier for both her and Chad.
To help the Preble family win the national contest, vote every 24 hours online at http://www.nmeda.com/mobility-awareness-month/heroes/arizona/tucson/594/chad-preble