I am Vanzilla, conqueror of obstacles, master of transportation, and now one in the fleet of 9 lift-equipped vans in the Youth Challenge Transportation Program! Youth Challenge, located in Westlake, is where children with physical disabilities enjoy sports and recreation. The children we serve load me full of their specialized equipment, such as hand-cycles, boccia ramps, and sports wheelchairs, and soon we are on our way to experience their grand and challenging adventures.
Sometimes I feel the stamp of mud from their nature walks and horseback rides, a spritz of water from their water adventures, or a bit of snow from a ski trip as I transport my precious cargo where they need to go next.
Most of all, I love to hear the children laugh with their friends as they face new challenges, learn new skills, and succeed socially and in adapted sports. When I take them home from their activities, I can sense their joy from the energy they bring. They are able to experience the world in all possible ways. Teen volunteers help them participate in sports and recreational activities so our children can experience life to the fullest.
I’m amazed by how much my kids appreciate me, so much so that they designed the sign for me to wear. They laid down the sign and the kids put paint on the wheels of their wheelchairs and rolled across it. I am proud to wear the mark of their wheels; it has become my cape. It makes me feel like a super hero, for without me they would not be able to travel or live as every child should.
There isn’t a better job for a van like me, transporting children with physical disabilities is my calling. I’m incredibly grateful for all the people involved in placing me with the fleet at Youth Challenge. My purchase was made possible with grant funds from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio, Inc. (RMHC-NEO) and is just one more way they are Keeping Families Close.