Fundraiser to help Marne family with wheelchair-accessible van

The McCarthy family is raising money to convert their van to a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

MARNE, Mich. (WOOD) — An online fundraiser for a young boy with special needs has caught the eye of a West Michigan nonprofit.

The McCarthy family is raising money to convert their van into a wheelchair-accessible vehicle for their fun-loving 7-year-old, Ben.

Lori’s Voice, which has made headlines for their mission, is now stepping in to help them reach their goal.

“The money we raise helps so many children like Ben. We meet these children and we think we’re going to help them but they ultimately help us,” Lori Hastings said. “They’re the ones that encourage us. They encourage me to continue on doing what we do.”

She founded the nonprofit with her husband, Dave, in order to lessen the financial burden families often face if their child isn’t able-bodied.

Ben has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

“He had three open heart surgeries in the first three years of life,” his mom, Elizabeth, said.

The rare heart defect often leads to other neurological disorders. In Ben’s case, he also experiences seizures and has cerebral palsy.

In August, Ben received a power wheelchair. It has made it easier for him to get around and play with his big sister Allison, but getting him in and out of their van is a challenge.

“It doesn’t have the ramp or the tie downs for a wheelchair so right now he still has to ride in a car seat,” his mom explained.

Elizabeth has spent countless hours seeking grants and fundraising through a Facebook group, but the McCarthy’s are still $11,000 short of what they need to make their van wheelchair-friendly.

Lori’s Voice has agreed to match donations up to $8,000 to help them get there. Their upcoming barn dance Sept. 23 in Conklin will raise money for families in situations like the McCarthy’s. Tickets for the fundraiser can be bought at the door.

If you’re interested in donating to The Wheels for Ben cause, you can visit their PayPal site