Family given new van to help son with cerebral palsy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local mom who cares for a son with cerebral palsy was surprised Monday with the gift of a lifetime, thanks to some generous community members.

Traveling to doctors appointments in an old van was a difficult task for Suzanne Free's family. She had to use sticks to help get her son, 18-year-old Anthony, down a ramp.

Community members, including Board Meetings International, wanted to help, so they started a campaign called "Anthony Strong."

The campaign raised $35,000 to get the Free family a new MV-1 wheelchair accessible van.

"I'm just so surprised about this and so grateful that there's so many wonderful people out there that actually care,” Suzanne Free said. “It's an amazing feeling."

Ironically, the Frees' van broke down Monday morning -- just in time for the gift.

"It's just a breath of fresh air and it reminds us that we all have something to be thankful for,” said Mobility Ventures' Erika Bogan, who was Ms. Wheelchair America 2010. “You see this old van falling apart and poor Anthony sitting in it with his neck bent. He couldn't even sit straight up. And knowing we're able to give him this amazing gift. Not only mobility, but safety and reliability."