Mother & daughter receive special needs van in act of generosity
COLMA, Calif. (KTVU) - In a heartwarming update to a story that aired on KTVU last month, a struggling single mother was able to get her 12-year-old daughter, who is in a wheelchair, a special replacement van for their old one that was destroyed in a crash with an uninsured motorist.
Kathleen Eastland of Oakland has to get her daughter, April Cookston, off to 6th grade, but it hasn’t been easy since the crash last June. Eastland’s insurance did not cover the loss of the destroyed van.
Thanks to generous KTVU viewers who responded to the original report, the mother and daughter received a new van on Friday night.
Lou Hanhan, co-owner of Precision Body Shop in Colma, donated a 2006 Toyota van to the family.
"Her big electric wheelchair weighs 350 pounds. She doesn't need to put it into the car. There will be a ramp. You'll drive it on here. They'll strap it down here and away they go," says Hanhan as he demonstrated how the new-used van will accommodate April's wheelchair.
April, who has cerebral palsy, has relied on the family's wheelchair accessible van to get around. Since the crash, April and her mom have used a borrowed van that April could barely fit in.
"This past seven month have been a struggle," says April.
Hanhan saw KTVU's story and had a van he planned to sell.
"As soon as I saw it, I knew right away. There wasn't nothing to think about," says Hanhan.
He also recruited other small business owners to help.
"You have the buttons to play it, fast forward," says Vlad Mikshansky as he demonstrated to April on how to use the DVD player he donated and installed in the van.
Mikshansky is owner of Auto Sound Performance in Daly City.
"It would be so much fun. I feel like it would be good on road trips," says April.
Mom tells KTVU she was still making payments on her destroyed van. But KTVU viewer donations to a GoFundMe account will help her pay off that debt.
"I just want to say thank you for everyone's help. It's really touched my heart. Thank you," says Eastland.
"I've learned that no matter the situation, you have to look on the bright side," says April.
There were hugs between April, her mom, and Hanhan as the van was given to mother and daughter at Precision Body Shop in Colma.
April's mom says the replacement van is fully insured and that she's learned her lesson about uninsured motorists and knowing what your coverage includes.
April and her mother say the help they received today will make a difference every day.