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Community Bands Together to Buy a Specialized Van for Young Woman With Disabilities

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Georgia Reed - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Georgia Reed

Georgia Reed is a survivor.

During her first outing from home as a weeks-old infant, she was in a car crash that caused a brain injury and left her disabled. Her mother was killed.

Her father, who remarried, died in a sailing accident when Georgia was just 12. Around that same time, following many surgeries, Georgia lost her ability to walk. Now 22, she relies on a wheelchair. She has seizures, meaning she needs 24-7 supervision. She has trouble speaking, so she has learned to write short messages using a keyboard.

"It's pretty amazing what she's been through and how resilient she's been," said Josie Reed, who adopted Georgia when she married the young woman's father. Several years after his death, she married Ben Reed.

Georgia lives in Calais and has flourished by staying active through volunteer work at the local library and a horse rescue, and with help from her caregivers and adoptive parents. Last month, Georgia graduated from what's known as the Transition Academy at U-32 High School in Montpelier. The program gave her caregivers use of a van specially equipped to hold her motorized wheelchair. Georgia could "drive herself around and go where she wants," Josie said.

Now that the vehicle is no longer available to her, Georgia can't use the power chair — a huge setback for her independence.

A group of family friends came to the rescue. Jamie Moorby helped start a fundraising campaign in December, thinking it could bring in a few thousand dollars for a down payment on the $60,000 vehicle Georgia needs. But the effort took off: To date, it's raised nearly $56,000. The family now hopes to buy a van with four-wheel drive to help them get up their steep dirt road.

The family was initially uncomfortable with the idea of a fundraiser, Josie said in a phone interview, adding: "I get teary every time I think about it, because it's just unbelievable, the amount of support and love that we've felt from people."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Moving Tale"