04/17/13 — Four in competition for help

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Four in competition for help

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 17, 2013 1:46 PM

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Jimmie Thompson tends to his indoor garden. Thompson is one of four local contestants in a national contest to win a handicapped accessible van.

Four local people are entered in a national contest to win one of three handicapped accessible vans.

Sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, the contest has almost 1,000 entries. They are all stories of "local heroes" across the United States and Canada telling their stories about how they or someone they know have overcome the daily challenges of living with a disability.

Stories and photos of entrants are online at www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/ local-heroes. People can go to the website and vote for their hero, only one vote per day from an IP address though.

May 10 is the last day to vote.

"We take the top 5 percent of vote getters and they go on to the second phase of the contest," said National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association's creative manager Jenna Detrapani.

"That's where a panel of health professionals look at their stories, their needs and what they're doing with their lives and their disabilities. Then they pick three winners."

Winners will be announced May 31.

The three vans have been donated by Toyota, Chrysler and Honda. Several handicapped equipment manufacturers will take the vans and modify them for the winners, at no cost.

Michelle Silvey and her son, George, of Fremont are two of the entries.

The 42-year-old mother lost her leg in 2010 and is in a wheelchair. Her son, 14-year-old George, was born with a form of spina bifida. He has one kidney and walks on his hands.

Both are members of the Carolina Fury Wheelchair Hockey Team.

In past years, George has helped with the Cub Scout popcorn fundraiser, played baseball on a regular and disabled team and was second in Battle of the Books. He's an avid reader and XBox player. He wants to go to college to become a video game designer.

Michelle has participated in several school fundraisers and helps with End of the Year testing and at book fairs and carnivals. She's also active in Relay for Life.

"Besides the disabilities people see, there are many they do not see," Michelle said. "Due to dialysis, I had to resign teaching. I am a visually impaired diabetic with a pacemaker. Even with all that is wrong with us, we overcome it by the love and support we give each other. We live with my 65-year-old mother, and she is our main caregiver."

Jimmie Thompson of Pikeville is another entrant, nominated by his children.

He became a paraplegic in a car accident five years ago.

But he didn't let that stop him from living his life.

He frequently gets under his car to work on it, cooks, drives, golfs, fishes, hunts, mows the lawn and gardens. He got a job about nine months after his accident and is still working. He takes his three children to their sports practices and games. He also plays with Carolina Fury.

In his nomination, Thompson's children said, "Dad tells us that in order for something great to happen, you have to go out and do something. He never waits around for someone to say, 'Go ahead and try it.'"

Jerimiah Waddell of Dudley was nominated by his sister Ashley.

In 2011 he was in a car accident and had a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from his neck down. He now lives with his sister and her husband.

Waddell's stepfather took the seats out of his regular van and Waddell drives into it using a four-wheeler ramp made out of metal and wood. But there are no locks inside for the wheelchair wheels.