WYOMING, Mich. -- Tyler Dykema said his mother bought a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan that's wheelchair accessible, last year. It was an $8,000 purchase that he said turned out to be a lemon. For his entire life, Dykema has lived with a degenerative disease known as spinal muscular atrophy or SMA.
"It’s basically a weakening of the muscles. It’s very similar to muscular dystrophy," Dykema explained.
His muscles continue to weaken as he ages. He has spent his entire life in a wheelchair. A large motorized wheelchair allows him to get around, but he also needs reliable transportation.
“It was almost like it fell from heaven. Like, this van was perfect," Dykema said of the Caravan.
The 26-year-old said he identifies as an artist first. He doesn't allow himself to be defined by his physical challenges. While he depends on his mom and brother for things most people take for granted, he said he lives his life as independently as possible.
But ever since buying the van to replace an old one, he said that independence all but came to a screeching halt.
“The brake lines were out, and it was gonna cost thousands and thousands of dollars to fix and we were also told that the frame is also completed rotted through. There’s actual holes right in the floor under the carpet," Dykema explained.
It's not safe to drive. The Dykemas realize they should have had it inspected before buying it.
“After that, we were not really able to reach the guy to see if he knew ahead of time before selling it to us," Dykema recalled.
That $8,000 is gone. To bounce back, Dykema started a Gofundme page. He's looking to raise $25,000. So far, he's raised more than $4,600.
He's just looking for a little help from the community.
“I don’t like looking for handouts or even appearing as though I ’m looking for a handout. To ask for help is something big for me. Like, if I’m asking for help it’s desperate need," Dykema said.
If you would like to donate, you can click here.