J.T. Townsend Foundation giving van to family

Foundation spent months trying to find perfect family

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Four months after J.T. Townsend's death, his van is being donated to help another family. The van was created just for Townsend's size, needs and preference.

"When Mike Davidson Ford donated the van to J.T., they had an extended roof on it for his stature, his tall stature and his large wheel chair," said Townsend Foundation board chair Judi Zitiello. "It's completely wheelchair accessible; it has a lift and and ramp."

Townsend loved taking road trips in "his baby," as he called his van. After he died, his family searched for the right person to donate it to. They found Joshua Brantner and his stepfather, Harold Lawrence.

"They couldn't find a van large enough, tall enough for Joshua and that just struck a chord with me," Zitiello said. "The van they have currently has around 200,000 miles on it and it's not working properly all the time."

Brantner lost his ability to walk and talk after injuring his brain when he fell 30 feet from a tree while under the influence of drugs and alcohol 12 years ago. Brantner and his stepfather then founded Thru the Roof Ministries. They've traveled to 13 states, sharing their message with children, parents and groups. Their goal is to make it to all 50 states.

Townsend died in June after his heart stopped. He was 26 years old.

The van will be presented to the family on Friday afternoon at Christ the Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach. The public is welcome to attend.

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