There is a big, white, 10 passenger miracle sitting in my driveway right now.
Yes, folks. We have a wheelchair accessible van!!
Let me tell you this story. I’ll try to do it without crying. :)
A little over a month ago I got a Facebook message from a fellow adoptive mom and Facebook friend Ashlee. She and I had met briefly in Uganda and had stayed in touch on FB since that time. Her message that day basically said – I’d like to raise enough money to buy your family a wheelchair accessible van.
I was sitting at lunch with my family when I read the message. I handed the phone to my husband to read and he and I sat there with our mouth hanging open, shocked and overwhelmed that someone would want to do this for us!
Ashlee’s goal was to raise $15,000 by October 15 . It seemed like so much money in such a short amount of time. You can read her original blog post about the fundraiser HERE.
Quickly it became clear that hundreds of amazing people were going make this dream a reality. We stood in shock as we watched money come pouring in, designated for the “van fund”. Thousands of dollars were donated by family, friends and complete strangers who wanted to see this happen. Ashlee hosted an online auction and dozens of people donated goods to be auctioned off. Other adoptive families, some in the midst of their own fundraising, donated items. Several stores and merchants donated goods and services. Photographers, artists, online stores, and more. Hundreds of people bid on these items and raised thousands of dollars which then went into the van fund. Someone held a giveaway for a necklace. Someone else hosted a book party. People sent me encouraging messages sharing how our kids have touched their hearts and how they were praying for us. Bloggers blogged about it and hundreds of people shared the fundraiser on Facebook. It was so incredible and humbling to watch so many people come together to provide this amazing gift to our family.
We started looking at vans several weeks ago. We didn’t have all the money we needed yet but it was clear that God was doing something miraculous. We quickly found three vans that sounded great. The first one, our favorite, unfortunately turned out to be a scam. But the second one, our second favorite, wasn’t a scam at all and as we learned more about it, we decided that this van was IT. The perfect van for our family.
I told Ashlee we’d found THE van and she put out a final push to get the last remaining amount of money needed. We didn’t need the full $15,000 that we had originally planned, we only needed $10,000 to pay for the van, the cost of getting it here and the repairs it needed. We were about a thousand dollars short.
The van was in Iowa so as soon as I knew we had enough money to get there and buy the van I booked a plane ticket and flew to Iowa!
While I was there, the rest of the funds needed were donated and our van was fully funded!!!
Another Facebook friend/adoptive mama and her husband picked me up from the airport and drove me an hour away to check out the van. I’m so grateful for their help while I was there! Thank you Evans family! The van was everything we hoped it would be so…. I bought it!!
After doing paperwork at the BMV the van was ours and I headed home! It was a long 2 day drive home by myself. I had never driven a vehicle quite this big before so I was driving slowly and carefully. :)
When I finally got home the kids were ECSTATIC.
The next day we took it to church for the first time. Loading up the wheelchair with the electric lift was so exciting. It was SO fast and easy compared to the way we had been loading it in our minivan with those aluminum ramps! That afternoon we took our first road trip, this time back to the airport to pick up my moms van that I had left parked there.
The van is just great. It has room for eight plus the wheelchair. If the wheelchair isn’t in the van then we have room for ten! It is a hightop and I can actually stand in it, which is so cool for buckling kids in. The electric ramp is on the back (so it doesn’t block the door where the kids get in and out) and works GREAT. The kids are just in love with it and so are we!
We are SO SO grateful for everyone who helped make this dream a reality. For Ashlee, who spearheaded the whole thing (while preparing to have her FIFTH child!), for all the amazing folks who gave items to the auction, for everyone who donated money, purchased things from the auction and book sale, held giveaways, sent encouraging notes, prayed for us and shared our story. I still can hardly believe it happened! This is going to make our lives so much easier and we are overjoyed with this beautiful gift. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!