Teen with cerebal palsy is presented check for new van

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A wheelchair-bound senior at Forest Hills Northern has finally reached his goal of acquiring a new handicap-accessible van with the help of his community.

Wednesday afternoon, the charity group Lori's Voice presented a check worth $15,670 to Tony Bonofiglo to help pay for his new wheelchair-accessible van. His family says that their old van was falling apart after years of use, and that a new one would be essential in keeping Tony active in the community. Tony says that he's going to use the van to give back to the community by educating others about his disability.

Tony Bonofiglo rolls out of his new van.

Tony Bonofiglo rolls out of his new van.

"Now that I have reliable transportation, I am able to continue speaking to my community about the importance of inclusion and technology," Tony told FOX 17.

The brand new van - purchased through Courtesy Dodge on 28th Street - comes equipped with a ramp, a lift, and a lock down for Tony's wheelchair. His mother, Dianne Bonofiglo, says that it's nice to have a reliable vehicle again.

"It’s wonderful to be able to go out and start it right away," Dianne said. "Tony can [now] get to where he needs to go and be involved with his community and the so-many things that he does: giving back by speaking engagements, the adaptive sports that he does, [and] his volunteering in the community."

The Bonofiglo family say they have many people and groups to thank for the new van. Among those who contributed are their close family and friends, Noto's Restaurant, Lori's Voice, Forest Hills Public Schools, Courtesy Dodge, and Clock Conversions; the group responsible for outfitting the van with the accessibility features that Tony needs.

"This whole experiences has made me feel so loved and I can’t say thank you enough," Tony said. "Please know I will pay it forward and will give back to others. Bless you all."

You can nominate someone for the Pay It Forward Person of the Month and Persons of the Year. Click here for details.

 

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