Every day is a struggle for the Coombs family whenever they load 4-year-old Micah in and out of their van. "It gets difficult as he gets older to constantly be lifting him in and out," said Randy Coombs of Fresno.
You can't tell from his bright smile but Micah suffers from Cerebral Palsy -- a condition that causes physical disability and keeps him in a wheelchair. In the eyes of his adoptive family, Micah's story of survival makes him a local hero. "He's overcome being abandoned. He was abandoned on the side of the road in Ethiopia," said Monica Coombs, Micah's adoptive mother.
Micah is just one of more than 1,000 vying for a chance to win a wheelchair accessible vehicle through a national contest. Participants have a profile page on the "Mobility Awareness Month" website where people log on to vote for whomever they think is most deserving of a free mobility van.
"I cannot lift my arms or walk normally. That's why it's easier for me to move around using a powered wheelchair," said Charis Ramirez of Clovis. Ramirez has a rare condition that turns muscle and joints into bone, preventing her from moving normally. It's not easy for her family to take her to and from doctor appointments -- and even to the V.A. Hospital where she volunteers as a phone operator. "It would help my family relieve more of the physical strength that they need to get me in and out of the car," said Ramirez.
Steven Yescas of Hanford was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. He hopes to win a van so he can pursue his master's and get a job.
Andrew Vasquez of Selma has Muscular Dystrophy. His family writes an accessible van would be a blessing.
And while many of their stories are unique, one thing they all have in common is a passion for life -- despite the struggles they overcome each day.
Friday, May 10th is the last day to vote for who you think is most deserving.
You can go to the following website to read through their profiles: http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com