Valdosta Daily Times

December 13, 2012

Times readers help woman with wheelchair

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Alan Carter had hoped a story in the newspaper might result in a young, military wife receiving enough donations for a specialized wheelchair, but even he was surprised at how fast these hopes were fulfilled.

On Tuesday, The Times published a story about Kendra White. She suffered a debilitating spinal injury as the result of a car wreck at the age of 6. Now in her early 20s, she is married to Bradley Stebbins, who serves at Moody Air Force Base.

Because the couple is scheduled to be reassigned to a new region in the coming days, White had difficulty acquiring the funds to help her purchase an ultra-lightweight wheelchair which will give her more independence, more maneuverability and even allow her to express herself through various color choices.

Alan Carter of Brain Injury Advocate Services of Georgia works with people who have suffered brain and spinal injuries. He heard of White’s efforts to acquire an ultra-lightweight wheelchair and offered to help her. Together, he and White shared her efforts with The Times. Carter said $800 would make the difference in purchasing such a chair.

In less than a few hours after the story appeared on the streets in Tuesday’s edition of The Valdosta Daily Times, BIAS had already received word the money was available.

A man wishing to remain anonymous contacted Carter by 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Within a short time, he presented Carter with the $800 necessary to buy White’s ultra-lightweight wheelchair with Spinergy tires.

Even though the amount needed had been fulfilled, Carter and The Times continued receiving offers to help throughout Tuesday into Wednesday. Carter said he received one offer to help from a Colorado resident who read The Times story via Facebook. A Melbourne, Fla., resident also offered help. Numerous area people offered cash donations or wheelchairs.

Carter countered each new offer with the information that the needed amount had already been acquired. Some people offered to donate money for any extras that White may wish. A representative for one Valdosta organization told Carter her group would make a donation to BIAS which offers a support group and advocacy for people struggling with brain and spinal injuries and their families.

As for Kendra White, she is stunned by the outpouring.

“I was amazed and speechless,” White says. “I had no idea the community would rally together for the cause much less rally the contributions so fast. We, my husband and I, are so honored and humbled by the amount of help we received. I would love to thank everyone who read the story and were willing to help.”

She hopes other people facing challenges with insurance companies, medical suppliers, and other avenues find the help they need, but overall, she feels grateful for South Georgia’s generosity.

“I want to thank the community for their support,” she says, “and Alan Carter for drawing attention to the struggles of obtaining a wheelchair.”