To start off his entry, Kody Harlow – a 14-year-old from Lebanon, Ohio – wrote, “The FanVan will make a difference in my life because it will make me smile every day.” He certainly deserves a few extra smiles in his day – and so does the rest of his family. Kody, as well as three brothers and his mother, have Mitochondrial Disease, which affects the cells responsible for converting energy for the body. The disease varies greatly in how it affects each individual, which is evident in the Harlow family. Some members of the family deal with digestive problems and mild fatigue, while Kody’s condition is more severe and has led to multi-system diseases. Because the disease has progressed more quickly in Kody, he uses a wheelchair to conserve energy. New medical problems and frequent ICU hospitalizations are a fact of life. He receives daily in-home care from nurses and is also tutored from home (his medical needs have not allowed him to attend school full-time).
“The FanVan will make a difference in my life because it will make me smile every day.”
Despite these challenges, Kody still manages to be a kid. He and his brothers go to Victory Junction Gang Nascar Camp each year, where he relishes the chance to hassle driver Kyle Petty. The camp offers adventure and community for kids living with chronic illnesses. Next time he heads to camp, he’d love to pull up in his new, “pimped out” ride with matching Permobil wheelchair. “It would make Kyle Petty jealous,” he wrote, “and then we could dunk him again in the dunk tank.”
On October 16th, Kody and his family will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the official presentation of the van at the Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 Race. There, he will meet our Founder and CEO Ralph Braun and the driver of the #38 Braun Racing car, Jason Leffler. The whole crowd will cheer on Kody as Jason takes him on a victory lap around the track in the Fan Van before the race! Following the official presentation, the Fan Van will travel to MC Mobility Systems in Cincinnati, where Kody and his family will take final delivery the following week.
Along with the van, Kody will receive a Permobil wheelchair and a tailgating package from Colman. Thank you to all of the sponsors that helped us put together this exciting package: Toyota, Permobil, Great Clips, and Coleman.
Below is a recording of Ralph Braun’s phone call last week telling Kody he’d won the van. Take a minute to listen in on the call – it will definitely put a smile on your face!
One more thing – and I think this has to be fate, karma, divine intervention, or a combination of all three – Kody’s mother Stephanie pointed out to us that this week happens to be National Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. To find out more about the disease and how you can help those affected, please visit www.umdf.org or www.mitoaction.org.
Please join us in congratulating Kody – he’s officially “off to the races” in the 2009 Ultimate Fan Van! Look for more features on Kody and his family in the weeks leading up to the presentation!