Christmas for a Hurting Family – A Wheelchair Van

Jason, Jeffrey, Logan and Cherry Hurt with Bobby Bryson of United Access

An Incredible Gift – A Wheelchair Van

It’s the season of giving, right? With that in mind, here’s a shot of inspiration before we take off for the holiday weekend.

Christmas came a little early for the Hurt family in Halls, Tennessee. Cherry Hurt and her 29-year-old son, Jeffrey, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, have driven a full-sized van with a competitor’s lift for the past nine years, but its days on the road were numbered. “The end of its life was definitely coming,” said Jeffrey. “Wires were shorting on us, and all the lights on the dashboard were lit up like a Christmas tree.”

The Hall’s had been attending the West Dyersburg Church of Christ for 11 years, and elders at the church knew the family was struggling with their mobility situation. They decided to devote one of their special collections (they have two each year) to get the family back on the road.

“The Hurt family has been one of our families for a long time,” said Rick Crawford, one of the church elders. “They’re always doing things for others, and it was about time they were on the receiving end of things.”

The church worked with United Access in Memphis and selected a 2009 Town and Country CompanionVan with a rear-entry conversion. Bulletin boards describing the family’s situation and showing the new wheelchair van were posted throughout the church for weeks. On the day of the collection, the congregation of 450 members raised an incredible sum – nearly $30,000 – almost the entire cost of the new wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Jeffrey checking out his new CompanionVan
Jeffrey checking out his new wheelchair van

A few Sundays later, the church elders arranged for the wheelchair vehicle to be parked in the Family Life Center. After the church service, the entire congregation walked with the Hurt family to the gymnasium and made the presentation.

It was an emotional day for everyone, “Mama cried,” said Jeffrey, “but I’m the guy, you know, I had to keep it together.” Not long ago if the family wanted to go somewhere, his mother – a “tough old gal,” as Jeffrey calls her – had to help lift him into the cab of a full-sized pick-up.

Even when they owned an accessible van, Jeffrey had to duck his head to get into the van and couldn’t see well out the front windshield once he was inside. With the CompanionVan, it’s a different story. “I love this van,” he said. “I can see fine and I feel like a regular person. I can go anywhere I want to go.”

Bobby Bryson, General Manager of United Access, made the trip up for the presentation. “It was truly a blessing that the Hurt family was approached by the church with this gracious gift,” said Bryson. “This holiday will be one that Cherry, Jeffery and the whole family will never forget.”

To Rick Crawford and the rest of the church, this has been another opportunity to share the spirit of giving. “I just had a talk with a boy and told him that anytime you can give is better than getting,” said Crawford. “This congregation has always been a very, very giving group.”

Thank you to the West Dyersburg Church of Christ, United Access, and the Hurt family for sharing this story with us. We hope this same giving spirit is alive in each of you throughout the holiday season!