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Son’s Essay Moves Stranger to Buy Family a Wheelchair-Ready Van

Saturday August 15, 2015    9:49 AM

A Michigan mother was stunned when she got a phone call telling her a complete stranger was buying her a new wheelchair accessible van–and it's all thanks to her son's essay praising his deserving mom.

Michelle Garn had been struggling to start her van so she could get it to a mechanic for more repairs, even though it was a rust-bucket, 15-years-old, and falling apart.

Since a stroke 13 years ago, the mother of three has been confined to a wheelchair and, lately, has tried to come up with the money for a new vehicle that would accommodate her physical disability.

Her son Brendan had entered an essay contest during National Mobility Awareness Month because first prize was a new, wheelchair-accessible van. He didn't win, but because he placed in the finals, the local newspaper printed a story about him and his mother's plight.

That story touched the heart of retired businessman Tom Kolassa.

"I wanted to tell her, "You didn't win this contest, but you are first place in somebody's heart,'" Kolassa told the Lansing State Journal.

Retired from the insurance industry in Battle Creek, Michigan, he worked with a local dealership to buy Garn a one-year-old van with just 15,000 miles on it. Garn still couldn't believe it as the man delivered it to her home. It was the first time they'd ever met — and there wasn't a dry eye between them.


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