ELMHURST, Ill. -- When Sam Williams' new minivan arrived Wednesday, he couldn't hide his excitement.
"Oh wow, this is great," he said using his electronic speaking device.
"I am very, very grateful," added the 35-year-old Elmhurst resident, who is confined to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy.
As a result, he can't get around in an ordinary car. He had a specialized minivan, but earlier this year it needed to be retired. In the months since, Williams has been taking public transportation everywhere-to work with kids at the Easter Seals, to coach bocce ball, to go to class.
His mom, Sammy Williams, said it would take two "take two hours to get three miles down the road."
Then his longtime friend, Barbara Rosenberg, stepped in. With support from a local organization No Frills Fun Run, and an anonymous donor, the Elmhurst community raised almost $50,000 to pay for Williams' new custom ride in full.
"It shows the power of community," he said.
It's also a reflection of the impact Williams has made. He cannot walk. He cannot speak. Yet he's excelled as a Paralympian, bocce ball coach and peer-mentoring leader for the Easter Seals.
Rosenberg said he's taught her "perseverance is a wonderful thing and that there is joy in life regardless of your circumstances."
Now Williams will have something extra to smile about. Thanks to the new ride, he'll be able to go places again with his own kids.
"It's just been overwhelming for us to accept the generosity of all these people. It makes you feel great. It makes you feel great about the world and people," added his mom.
Everyone else will surely feel great with Sam Williams driving through their communities, sharing his optimism.
"I will come into contact with hundreds and thousands of people. I can make a positive impact in their lives and in turn they can make positive future impacts for countless others."
That spirit makes us Chicago Proud!
Community donates minivan to man with cerebral palsy