You can help Benard win a wheelchair accessible van by voting for him in an essay contest he entered on the Life Moving Forward website. The contest ends on Sunday, May 13.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A wheelchair accessible van could change the lives of a Syracuse family that has suffered incredible tragedy from a neuromuscular disease.
The Bampoh family lost two of three sons to spinal muscular atrophy. Their third son has the disease and is looking for a van to help his parents take care of him.
15-year-old Benard Bampoh and his two brothers were born in the West African nation of Ghana – all three of them afflicted with a neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy.
After Benard’s first brother died of the disease, the Bampoh family was able to move to Syracuse for medical help when his mother received a scholarship to Syracuse University. His second brother died just a few months later. His father, a preacher, says Benard is a miracle.
“Now, by the grace of God, he has gained weight. And as he gains weight to meet up with medical standard, we lifting him and things becomes a problem,” Bismark Bampoh said.
“A wheelchair van means all to us,” said Victoria Bampoh. “It means that we don’t have to lift up Benard, whose back hurts each time we lift him into a car and out of a car.”
The family had a van for years, but it broke down. Benard’s father does not have a work Visa, and his mother is finishing school.
“It saddens me that as much as I would want him to interact and have the normal life that any other person would have, we are limited because he doesn't have a wheelchair van,” Victoria Bampoh said.
“When school is over, and his friends have a birthday party and invite him, and he tells us, we say - you know we don't have a car. So how do we take you there?” Bismark Bampoh said.
Benard says a van could also help him stay healthy.
“It’s quicker to get in the car and my parents don't have to load the chair after carrying me so I don't have to be in the cold for too long. Because if that happens, I get sick, and my respiratory function goes down a bit,” he said.
Without a van, his family says Benard is cut off from social interaction, and he feels the complete toll of the disease. They said a wheelchair accessible van would truly be another miracle.