Local woman raises money for handicap accessible van
Wed, 01/27/2021 - 9:26am caleb
Kinzie Nena | Staff Writer
A local woman has been attempting to raise money for a handicap accessible vehicle.
Rebekka Welsh, 26, has been a Grayling resident her entire life until 2019 when she moved to Gaylord with her husband. Before moving, Welsh was a long time volunteer, giving back to the community by singing at Grayling Nursing and Rehab every Sunday until the pandemic began. She also volunteered at her church, helping to organize bake sales. Welsh also helps with the Grayling Main Street, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, the Christian Help Center, and has even volunteered to help construct a house for Habitat for Humanity. Readers might remember Welsh from the Devereaux Memorial Library and the Crawford County Library Systems for many years, where she got to know the community even better.
Welsh, who has been fundraising for a handicap accessible van, has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) which is a muscle and joint disorder. There are over 400 different varieties and variations of AMC and 1 in 10,000 babies are diagnosed with AMC.
“I happened to be that one (in 10,000). It affected my lower legs and my right arm. For me, it means that my leg muscles did not fully develop while I was in the womb. I got my first wheelchair when I was three years old. For me I have known nothing else and I have always figured out a way to do the things I would like to do,” said Welsh.
“As a person in a wheelchair a lot of people would look at me and assume that my quality of life isn’t as high as theirs, but that is not correct. If I want something, I work towards it. I wind up having to find different ways to do many things but I am your average young woman,” Welsh said.
Welsh has a personal philosophy of not letting anything hold her back or deny her the same opportunities that other people have. It has taken some creative solutions to overcome different hurdles, the worst in having to have her wheelchair repaired, which takes time and limits her mobility. However, Welsh has not been held back by mobility strains, having even lived alone for five years, and used capable public transportation to do errands and get around, to and from work and places in the county, and she has even simply wheeled herself places.
“When I was 10 years old the movie Robots came out and one of the characters Bigweld was a great advocate of helping people and his motto was ‘See a need, fill that need.’ That resonated with me, even at 10. I think it was probably because I was forced to grow up faster and be more mature because of the AMC. I always enjoyed giving of myself to the community,” Welsh said.
During the time that Welsh was employed at the library, she found it difficult at times to maintain her volunteer schedule, but was driven to keep up the work as she enjoyed helping out where it was needed, and loved connecting with people.
The desire to get a vehicle and learn to drive has been a dream since Welsh was 12 years old. Welsh has been fundraising since June 3, 2020. There are programs that are designed to help those in wheelchairs; however, Welsh was denied these programs due to the size of the town, her short distance to work, and the public transportation available in Grayling.
Welsh began fundraising to purchase a vehicle herself. She had the idea when she saw the opportunity to start collecting returnable pop cans after the governor opened bottle returns. She knew that there were plenty of people with an excess of bottles and cans and that waiting in line was discouraging, but she had her goal in mind to save money for the handicap accessible van. While she currently focuses on collecting cans, she has also made a small amount of money doing a Pampered Chef fundraiser. Recently she started an online fundraising effort using GoFundMe.com, which is an online crowdfunding campaign website.
“I was hesitant to start a Go Fund Me because I believe in hard work and I want to show everyone that I am not just asking them to give me money. I wound up starting a Go Fund Me in late November because bottles were slowing down and I still have quite a way to my end goal. The Go Fund Me has gotten a few donations but the returnables are definitely the main source of funding,” said Welsh.
At present Welsh has managed to raise $770 with GoFundMe towards her $15,000 goal. Her GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofund.me/541be78d. Welsh can also be reached via Facebook, where she frequently posts in the Grayling Helping Grayling group. Welsh also accepts texts and phone calls about potential can and bottle collections at (989) 889-4955.