Community helps Weinschenk buy wheelchair-accessible van

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | 5:09 p.m. CDT; updated 12:24 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 26, 2008

COLUMBIA — Kathleen Weinschenk and her partner, Greg Ahrens, brought home the wheelchair-accessible van they were hoping to buy on Tuesday. More than 100 people have donated to help pay the van’s $23,900 price tag in the past few months. Donors included Weinschenk’s friends from her church, civic organizations, MU’s Occupational Therapy Association and her family members.

The 2002 Ford Windstar van has a wheelchair ramp that comes out of the floor, which is more substantial than the plywood floor in their old van. The van also has air conditioning, a feature that the couple said they are grateful for. It even came with a free tank of gas.

“In months we haven’t seen a full tank,” Ahrens said.

The back of Weinschenk’s old van was covered in bumper stickers, but she said she doesn’t plan to decorate her new one.

“It’s too pretty,” she said. “It would rub the paint off.”

Weinschenk said the donations are still being counted, but she doesn’t need any more money.

“If people want to give, they need to give to the food bank,” she said.

Ahrens said the Rev. Kristen Powell will bless the new van after the 11 a.m. church service on Sunday at the Unity Center of Columbia.

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