Valdosta Daily Times

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April 9, 2014

South Georgians vie to win accessible van

Mobility Awareness: Crystal Anderson and Misty Hayes

VALDOSTA — Two local sisters have redefined the ideas of physical limitations. From a family of five siblings, Crystal Anderson of Valdosta and her sister Misty Hayes of Colquitt were both born with muscular dystrophy. Although they both walked early on in life, by their teenage years they were wheelchair bound.

Muscular dystrophy causes muscles to progressively deteriorate so the sisters’ legs became too weak to carry them any longer. Raised solely by their mother, the sisters were treated no differently from their other siblings and were urged to pursue any goals they wanted to in life.

“People jokingly commented to our mother that she needed to tell us that we were disabled, because we did not act like it,” says Anderson. Both the daughters went on to college, even inspiring one of the colleges to have a ramp available for students who need it so they could cross the stage just like everyone else.

These so-called “limitations” have never stopped either sister from pursuing their life goals. Misty works 40 hours a week helping adults with developmental disabilities while her sister works as an assistant professor of communications at South Georgia State College. Crystal is also a wife and a mother of a son that keeps her on the go.

“I want people to attach the phrase ‘I’m possible’ to the word “impossible,” says Anderson. She strives to show that every person has some kind of obstacle in life and you can either let it strengthen or define you.

The main goal of both sisters is to show society that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they are incapable.

“If someone thought we couldn’t do it, then we felt inspired to try,” says Anderson. Both are actively involved in their communities and hope to educate their peers on their condition and how to interact with people who are different from themselves.

While both sisters have clearly maintained full independence, one thing that could help them further maintain this independence would be new forms of transportation. Wheelchair accessible vans are not cheap and while both sisters have vans, they are an older technology with parts that can no longer be found. Once these vans hit a certain number of miles, they can no longer be replaced. Since they both work full time, they are ineligible for most of the programs that are available for financial assistance for a van.

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