It’s time to rally around a Jacksonville hero

It’s time to rally around a Jacksonville hero

By Anna Ferraro

If there ever was a time where our community needs to rally around an individual, it is now. Meet Lizzie Chamberlain. At 13-years-old, she’s fun, smart, witty, and according to her mother, Lori Chamberlain, “has a degree in sarcasm.”

For the past two years, Lizzie has been the Illinois Good Will Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Why? Since birth, Chamberlain has been afflicted with a form of muscular dystrophy known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – a frightening disease which causes muscles to literally waste away. Over time, it destroys one’s ability to stand, smile, eat, swallow, walk and even breathe. Currently, there is no form of treatment.A bright smile from Lizzie Chamberlain - a true local hero

Chamberlain’s disease has progressed to the painful point where she suffers with an additional problem: severe scoliosis. Now in chronic pain, she no longer has any independence. While she used to be able to crawl from her wheelchair into a seat in her family’s minivan, she is too weakened to even do that. Now fully dependent on others to transport her, this vibrant 13-year old in our community is limited by her lack of transportation options.

Is there a solution? Yes: a handicap accessible van.

But there’s one problem. The basic new handicap accessible van starts at $60,000. A good used one starts at $40,000. Her mom shared, “We have a child with a disability. We struggle with the everyday costs of that … there’s no way we can add another payment.” Payments that would start at $591 per month.

Time for the community to come together? I think so. Here’s the deal: Lizzie Chamberlain has been entered into a national contest to win a handicap accessible van from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. In order to become a finalist in this contest, she must have the most number of votes at the end of voting on May 31.

This is where you come in …

1.) Go to www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/lizzie-chamberlain-jacksonville-il/.

2.) Follow the simple instructions to register with a username and password.

3.) Login through Facebook or the website, and cast a vote for Lizzie Chamberlain (check out her page at www.facebook.com/lizziec2014mda/)

4.) Do it tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. Until May 31st.

Do it for Chamberlain – a courageous young hero in our community who needs our help. And here’s what’s so heroic about her: She doesn’t just want the help so that she can live more comfortably. Chamberlain’s passion is to be an advocate for others who are hurting like her. She has dreams and goals and plans – ones that cannot form wings and take flight until she can find some independence in her transportation.LIzzie Chamberlain interacts with her dogs from her wheelchair

Her mom stated with feeling, “I want to know that I’ve done everything that I can do to help her.”

As a member of Chamberlain’s community, don’t you want to be able to say the same thing?

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