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A Ride for Ryan | News

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A Ride for Ryan

WEST SENECA, NY - A simple car ride is taken for granted by most- but it's cause for celebration for the Dolan family of West Seneca.

We first introduced you to Joanie Dolan back in April, when she told us a family road trip was never possible- because her son could not come along.

"We feel horrible when we have to leave him," Dolan told us in April. "Every time we go it's like sorry."

"Because he can't come with us," her daughter Taylor added.

13-year-olds Taylor and Ryan are twins, together since the womb and now separated by a vehicle. Their car has taped up windows, no heat or air conditioning, a leaking trunk and bald tires, but the worst part is, Joanie, a cancer survivor who's now disabled, can't get Ryan in and out.

He has hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, and has undergone numerous brain surgeries. The only time he leaves the house is when they borrow a friend's van for a trip to the doctor.

"He needs to be out in this world," she says, "and I want to show him this world."

So they entered a contest hoping the community could provide enough online votes to win them a wheelchair van. It ended though, with the Dolans disappointed and desperate.

"(He's) not be able to see his sister dance and go out to dinner with us or even just go for a ride or the grocery store." Dolan said. "Little things. It breaks my heart. I just wish people could see what it's like to live every single day not knowing how to provide for one of your children."

Touched by their story, West Herr Sales Consultant Amanda Westley, approached her boss with an idea, and got the wheels in motion, so to speak. 

"It just broke my heart and I just wanted to help and pay it forward," Westley said. "I went to Scott and we met with the family and he said, 'Let's do it, let's give this family a van.'"

"Once we met Mrs. Dolan, the rest is history," said Scott Bieler, West Herr's president. "Her warmth, her heart, her care for her son was so obvious that it was an easy decision."

With West Herr providing the van, the Make-A-Wish foundation jumped on board to make it wheelchair accessible.

"It's a wish that will last for years and bring him so much happiness and provide happiness to the family," said Cheryl Unger from Make-a-Wish.

The $15,000 conversion is the first wish of its kind for the local chapter. Main Mobility helped to make it happen. Its Chris Carden sent the minivan off to Michigan and six weeks later it came back a family friendly wheelchair van.

"This is the most rewarding job I've ever had," Carden said. "So if they want to go somewhere quick, go get ice cream, go get a sandwich, all she have to do, mom will just have to roll him in, and his chair will just dock and lock in the vehicle just like that."

With the wheels literally in place, the time had come for the Ryan to get his ride- police escort and all.

With the turn of the key, Ryan's face lit up.

As they drove without a destination, those cloudy skies began to clear.

"This is his freedom, this is going to give him the strength to build on his development," Dolan said. "A heavy rock or whatever it is on my heart has been lifted off of it and I don't feel like I have to abandon my child every again."

Joanie was so overwhelmed by the community's generosity, that she decided she wanted to give back.

She's now become a "wishmaker" for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to help other children feel the same joy that Ryan now does every day.


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