So far, Rebecca “Becky” Fulcher has about $3,500 to buy her first wheelchair-accessible van.
She saved $1,500 from high school graduation gifts last spring. And recently her fund got a boost when she received two $1,000 endowed gifts – one an award she received at the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas awards banquet, the second a generous donation from a woman who understands the 19-year-old Wichita State freshman’s need for her own transportation.
But she needs roughly $15,000 more. Her goal, she said, is to find the money by summer.
“I think she’s really looking forward to having the independence and not feel like she’s a burden” on others, Amy Fulcher said of her daughter, who uses a wheelchair.
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With a van, “other people will be able to drive it, but they won’t have to lift her in.”
McPherson teen Becky Fulcher, who was born with a form of muscular dystrophy called Friedreich’s ataxia, became the subject of an Eagle article in December after she was nominated for – and won – the Peter John Loux Award, which seeks to recognize people for their determination in overcoming physical disabilities.
A special and generous part of the story, the Fulchers say, came when another woman with a disability, Jeanne Gordon, also won the Loux honor but decided to give her $1,000 award to Becky after hearing of her plans to use the money to buy a van.
Since reading the article, people have reached out to the Fulchers, asking how they, too, can help.
The mother and daughter say they are humbled by the generosity.
“It’s been a great response. ... It was just unexpected for us. I feel like maybe it was just meant to be – the right time, the right place. So we’re just really looking to meet her goal and try to have her in something by summer,” Amy Fulcher said.
Currently, Becky’s caregivers lift her into vehicles when she needs to travel, including to WSU’s campus, where she is majoring in communication. If she had a van equipped with a ramp and other accessibility features, she would be able to roll in with her wheelchair. They are looking to purchase a good-quality used van that can be converted to fit Becky’s needs.
The price can be upwards of $20,000 for an already converted, used van and $40,000 for a new one, Amy Fulcher said. In the past, the Fulchers have shopped around but were deterred by the cost.
“We’ve been making do for a long time,” she said.
“A van would be safer.”
Donations to help Becky Fulcher purchase a handicap-accessible van can be made online at www.gofundme.com/je7hpc or by going to GoFundMe.com and searching for “Handicap Accessible Van for Becky.”
Contributions may also be mailed to Home State Bank, P.O. Box 1266, McPherson, KS 67460. Envelopes should be marked with “handicap van.”
Checks can be made out to Home State Bank or to Amy Fulcher and should include “handicap van” in the memo line.
Becky Fulcher said she initially was hesitant to agree to let her mother set up the funds. But she finally relented as more potential donors came forward.
“I’m not a charity case,” the 19-year-old said. “I’m grateful.”