Help a Portland woman win wheelchair van

Help a Portland woman win wheelchair van

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by CATHY MARSHALL, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Updated Thursday, May 3 at 6:29 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A drunk driver put Shannon Thomas in a wheelchair when she was just 8-years old. Now, 33-years later, she’s volunteering at Randall Children’s Hospital, helping young patients with art projects.

She hopes to show them you can have a productive life in a wheelchair.

Her story is also inspiring thousands as she tries to win a national contest. The prize is a specially-equipped van.

“When I was 16, I got my driver’s license and it gave me a freedom I never had experienced, “said Thomas.

That freedom is threatened now, because Shannon’s van is 15 years old and has 100,000 miles.

“I don’t want to become a prisoner in my own house,” she said. Shannon made a video about her life to enter the contest.

Three vans will be given away later this month by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

“Winning one would be incredible,” said Shannon’s 14-year-old daughter Gillian.

“It would change our lives and the lives of others because my Mom’s dream is to become an advocate for the ADA.” [Americans with Disabilities Act]

Shannon hopes to consult with builders on accessibility. “I’m ready to find a new passion in life now that Gillian’s older,” she explained.

She’s using a special Facebook page to generate votes.

In mid May, the top 3 vote-getters will be rewarded with a van. Shannon already has more than 8,000 votes.

“People I don’t even know have voted for me and then asked their friends to vote for me. It’s really heartwarming,” she said with a smile.

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