Local
10:46 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Gibsonia Family Receives Free Accessible Van

It looks almost like any other silver family van, but open the doors to the Guerino family's new ride and you'll find a few special features.

There's a ramp that unfolds when the back door slides open, and a pair of latches inside can lock in two powered wheelchairs: one for Gary Guerino, who has multiple sclerosis, and one for his sixteen-year-old daughter Miranda, who had a stroke while in the womb.

But the best part about this van was that it came free for the family. An anonymous donor heard about the Guerino's entry into a election-style contest to win an accessible van they couldn't afford. Instead of voting for the Guerinos, the donor decided to write a $40,000 check. It was enough to buy the new van through Variety, the Children's Charity.

Melissa Guerino said she hadn't known how she'd get her daughter around in her new power wheelchair.

"This person came and erased that question mark for me. I just feel like it's a miracle that answered, that's here in my driveway now," said Mrs. Guerino.

Her husband said the family's going to test out the new van this weekend.

"We'll see, first trip this weekend, we'll go to a graduation party for my nephew. And then, end of the month, Melissa, Miranda, and a couple of Melissa's sisters will go to Hershey, PA, for a little vacation," said Mr. Guerino.

He said Miranda wrote a thank-you card to the anonymous donors.

"I really wish I could see that, see their face when they see the card from Miranda, 'cause she wrote her name. She doesn't really write, but she printed her name," said Mr. Guerino. "It's just one of those things that makes you happy, just chokes you up a little bit."

The Guerinos' story could be an inspiration for others to help out neighbors with disabilities, according to Variety Children's Charity CEO Charlie LaVallee.

"I think what we're trying to do is make the invisible, visible," said LaVallee. "I don't think people always see kids with disabilities, and really what they need. That's really what we have to bring out to the open, and then trust — Western Pennsylvania is such a giving community. I think if we make it known, people will respond."

Gary Guerino said he'll be thanking his anonymous donor for years and years, although he has a feeling he'll never find out who wrote that check.