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INDEPENDENCE — A local woman could win a handicapped-accessible van through a national contest sponsored by the non-profit National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.
Althea Estey of Independence is paralyzed after what a friend describes as a bizarre accident.
Estey, a well-known local artist and community volunteer, is listed on the NMEDA’s “Local Heroes” contest website. The contest is in recognition of Mobility Awareness Month.
Her friend, Taphne Taylor, is encouraging people to vote for Estey so she can win the van.
Taylor asks that the contest link be shared via email and social media — www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/althea-estey-independence-va/.
Website visitors can cast a vote once a day. The contest ends May 10.
“Althea has been a vital part of the Independence community and she needs our help,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, Estey’s ordeal began simply enough, when Estey accidentally shut her hand in a door. In a series of events doctors are still attempting to understand, Estey is now a quadriplegic.
“Her physicians have guarded hope that she can regain the use of her hands with time and therapy and that she will be able to resume her artistic pursuits, but it will be a long time coming,” Taylor said.
Medicare is paying for Estey’s basic hospital and nursing home bills, but her other resources are extremely limited.
Her family is working on a fundraiser to afford a proper wheelchair, a chair lift, modifications to her home and a handicapped-accessible van. “But raising $100,000 is difficult in our small community,” Taylor said.
Winning a van from NMEDA would be a godsend for Estey and her family, Taylor said, and would allow Estey to continue her volunteer work once she is able.
Estey volunteered for years for the Independence Special Events Committee, bringing parades, festivals and events to the town. “She has always been willing to assist and teach others and, once she becomes mobile again, she desires to volunteer with other spinal cord injury patients,” Taylor said.
She is an artist who works in a number of media, but Taylor said Estey’s “exceptional gift” is graphite portraiture.
“Althea is an advocate for simple, clean living and leads by example,” Taylor said. “She promotes economic justice and equality for all. Althea has persevered through divorce, health issues, the loss of a business and lean times, but she always achieves success in the ways that count — family, friends and community.”
NMEDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding mobility options for people with disabilities. The organization promotes and supports members engaged in the modification of quality transportation and wheelchair accessible vehicles.