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Disabled Utah teen, family receive a wheelchair accessible van

Reese Thorne and his family received a wheelchair accessible van that will help his mom transport him. The van was given during a Compassion Mobility event on Saturday.

Reese Thorne and his family received a wheelchair accessible van that will help his mom transport him. The van was given during a Compassion Mobility event on Saturday. (Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SPANISH FORK — Carla Thorne said she thinks her son thought they were going to a race on Saturday.

Instead, she and her family were surprised with a wheelchair accessible van that she says is going to make it so much easier for her to move her son around.

"These things don't happen to us, we never win anything. Except Reese, we won him," Thorne said when it was announced her family had won the van.

Compassion Mobility, along with other nonprofit organizations, also surprised two other families Saturday with gifts that will improve their quality of life.

Carla and her husband Michael were foster parents for Reese when he was an infant, and later adopted him. Reese weighs 140 pounds and moving him from his wheelchair to a carseat whenever they go anywhere is no easy task. The family has looked into modifying a van to make it accessible, but it was out of their budget.

"We are so excited, I can't even believe it," Thorne said.

Reese, who is 17 and a senior at Bountiful High School, was born with a genetic disorder and cerebral palsy. He is nonverbal, but his mom said they think that he understands more about what is going on that people think, based on what he communicates using an eye gaze computer at school. Reese Thorne races marathons and half marathons using a special chair and runners to run with him.

The van was donated to the Mascot Miracles Foundation by one of their families, and they wanted to pass it on to someone who needed it. Rich Ellis with the foundation said that they reached out and got 40 responses and stories from people who could use the van.

"Reese's just really hit home, you know, a mom trying to lift a 140-pound child in and out of a vehicle all day long and it's going to wear on you, and he's just getting bigger," Ellis said.

Ellis said that he can tell that the van will make a huge difference for the family.

"It's nice to be able to give something to somebody when they are so appreciative, and you can totally tell that this is a life-changer for their family, no doubt about it," he said.

Two other gifts were awarded at the event. Nathan Glad and his family received a wheelchair lift to help move his more advanced wheelchair that can lift him up higher, allowing him to use the features of that wheelchair in other locations. Bridger Housley received an off-road scooter that will help him go hunting with his family and independently get to and from his friend's house.

Multiple organizations teamed up to help provide the gifts, including Compassion Mobility, Angels Hand Foundation, Do_Utah, and Mascot Miracles Foundation.

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