VERNON — Becky and Dave Dyment's son Justin was just 4-months-old when he was diagnosed with a rare seizure disorder. At the time, the couple promised to always include Justin in family activities and trips.
Now they are hoping to win a customized van to help uphold that promise.
"I can't say that we need it more than anyone else," Becky said. "But we do need one."
Justin, now 7, experiences up to 30 seizures a day. In addition to the disorder he has global developmental delays, cortical blindness, cerebral palsy, and a condition that causes his body to absorb too much iron.
With three other children between the ages of 14 and four months, and a growing list of therapy appointments for Justin, Becky and Dave Dyment are asking for help to get a handicapped accessible van.
Becky said she came across a contest on the Internet, and now the family is competing against nearly 1,000 others across the country hoping to generate enough votes to win a wheelchair accessible van.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is giving away three customized vehicles valued at approximately $50,000 each for Mobility Awareness Month in May.
Becky is a state employee. Dave works two part-time jobs as a real estate agent and assistant restaurant manager in order to bring Justin to his appointments during the week.
Dave said that as Justin's grown older and moved from a stroller to a large wheelchair, it's become more difficult to transport him in the family minivan.
"[The handicapped van] would mean being able to do so much more with Justin," he said.
Becky added that it's always been important for them to maintain normalcy for their children.
"During the summer, we like to go to Six Flags, the beach, we try to keep things as normal as possible for our kids," Becky said. "It's becoming more and more of a challenge – Justin's growing, our 14-year-old daughter is into acting and singing, our 4-year-old does gymnastics."
The Dyments said they are grateful for the support they've received from the community.
"Since Justin was born, the response from friends and family in the community has been amazing," Becky said.
Last month, Northeast Elementary School provided funds to install a temporary wheelchair ramp at the Dyments' home.
At school, the kids read to Justin and want to sit next to him during circle time, Becky said.
"Everybody just loves Justin," she said. "He's very smiley, very happy; Justin knows no different. He's a happy little boy."
As of Wednesday, there were 10 Connecticut residents in the contest. The other participants are: David Lebron of Hartford, Alex Berube of East Hartford, Kristina Dowling of Glastonbury, Andy Marinon of Windsor Locks, Hannah Krista of New Haven, Howard Hankin of North Haven, Brianna Lennon of New Milford, Lela Stokes of Guilford and Vanessa Soto of Danielson.
For more information on the contest and to vote, visit http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/ Visitors are allowed to vote every day until May 9.
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