North Central News

Local family gets a donated van

North Central resident Ashleigh Johnson has struggled with more than her fair share of setbacks in her life, but it hasn’t stopped her from volunteering and keeping a positive attitude.

Johnson, who was born with Spina Bifida and is confined to a wheelchair, has relied on the help of her parents, Karen and Johnny Johnson, for her transportation needs. But recently that has provided yet another struggle. The family did not possess a vehicle with a wheelchair lift, so if she went anywhere with her parents, they would have to lift her in and out of the vehicle and place Ashleigh in her manual chair.

Celebrating the donation of a wheelchair-accessible 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan to the Johnson family of North Central Phoenix are, from left: David Martin of Martin’s Auto Repair in Phoenix; RaeAnn Hayward of NARPRO; Karen and Johnny Johnson; Jim Garland of Hi-Tech Car Care, and Ashleigh Johnson in front (submitted photo).

Celebrating the donation of a wheelchair-accessible 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan to the Johnson family of North Central Phoenix are, from left: David Martin of Martin’s Auto Repair in Phoenix; RaeAnn Hayward of NARPRO; Karen and Johnny Johnson; Jim Garland of Hi-Tech Car Care, and Ashleigh Johnson in front (submitted photo).

“Unfortunately, I have limit upper body strength and struggle to push my manual chair myself,” she explained. “I can only take my power wheelchair if someone has a lift and can help me out. This is incredibly limiting in my ability to go anywhere. I volunteer at the Phoenix Zoo and with the hills and rough terrain using a manual wheelchair is difficult.”

Ashleigh heard about the “Walk-N-Roll” essay contest being sponsored by the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals (NARPRO), with a grand prize of a reconditioned, wheelchair-accessible 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan valued at $3,000. NARPRO is celebrating 10 years in the Valley and this essay contest is part of its “10 Acts of Giving” movement to celebrate the milestone.

Ashleigh shared her story with the NARPRO judges, and how things have become more difficult of late because of her father’s medical issues. Johnny was diagnosed with esophageal cancer seven years ago and because of the surgery and treatment he underwent, “he can no longer pick me up and transfer me, relegating this task to my mom,” Ashleigh wrote. “Recently, he suffered a small stroke and the little bit he could do with helping out is even more limited now.”

The Johnsons were overwhelmed when they found out their family had been chosen to receive the grand prize, which was presented to them on Nov. 7 during the Spina Bifida Walk (www.SBAAZ.org) at Steele Indian School Park.

“We at NARPRO are proud to be able to impact a deserving family in such a profound way,” said Jim Garland of Hi-Tech Car Care, a longtime business member of NARPRO. “For more than 10 years we have been part of this community and feel it is our duty as to give back wherever we can. We are proud to be able to provide this luxury to a wonderful local family.”

Ashleigh says having a vehicle with a wheelchair lift will allow her to “attend more social events with my friends, take my power chair to my volunteer job, and provide the assistance my parents need in helping me live a fuller life.”

The Johnsons also will receive free oil changes for a year and a VIP card good for discounts on car repair services at any valley NARPRO location (www.NARPRO.com) valued at $200.

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