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Group provides wheelchair and lift for teenager | News

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Group provides wheelchair and lift for teenager
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Largo, Florida -- John Fortner tries out a new set of wheels. The teenager from Palm Bay will need the motorized wheelchair to take his date Missy to the prom and to roll across the stage at graduation.

John's "to do" list is pretty long; especially considering what doctors told his mother when he was diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy.

"That he would never live to see the age of six, he'd never go to a regular school," recounts Stacy Walczak.

But John's physical disability puts a strain on family finances. They get help from the state, but a new power wheelchair was out of the question.

"Just the wheelchair on its own is $10,000...that's a down-payment on a house," says Walczak.

And that's where Wheelchairs 4 Kids comes in. Madeline Robinson recently formed the group, because she saw the need.

"I worked for children's charities for 12 years and I kept seeing kids in wheelchairs that were falling apart, a lot of duct tape or too small," says Robinson.

The not-for-profit is giving John the wheelchair. When John is tired, his speech is barely audible, but on Thursday, his wide smile told the story.

And then there's the new wheelchair lift for the family van. The old one was so broken, that a couple of times John almost fell off of it.

 "Very dangerous, yes," agrees Gary Shikoski of MITS at Custom Mobility.

The Largo company provided the lift and installation.

When John tried out the new lift, he grinned from ear to ear at the smooth ride. And there was thanks for everyone who helped give this family an emotional lift.

Walczak says, "I'm very grateful; he's going to be safe."

If you know of someone or a group Making a Difference in your community, email the details to 10 News Reporter Kathryn Bursch at kbursch@wtsp.com.

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