Valdosta Daily Times

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April 9, 2014

Pavo man Jacob O’Hern seeks community support

PAVO — The needs of those confined to wheelchairs are much greater than those on the outside could realize. Jacob O’Hern and his family know those needs first hand.

Jacob, a 2011 graduate of Thomas County Central, was in a car accident in 2012 that resulted in him losing most of his mobility. As a tetraplegic, Jacob is often isolated by being confined to his power wheelchair. Aside from when his father, Patrick, is able to take him to Thomasville, Valdosta or Moultrie, Jacob is not able to have much social contact with another person other than his family.

While Jacob enjoys traveling to the outlying cities to find social contacts, each time he wishes to travel, Patrick must physically lift him into their family vehicle. Lifting Jacob’s 190-pound frame into the vehicle is causing immense strain on Patrick and as a result, the O’Hern family is in desperate need for a van that is modified for a powered chair.

Jacob and his family have decided to enter into an online competition that could help them out greatly. The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is currently running an online competition for selected individuals to qualify for a free van. Jacob has entered in the competition, but being located in a rural town has put him at a severe disadvantage.

The typical winners from these competitions are those who are from more populous areas, as they are able to get more votes.

“Getting this van would increase his ability to get out and see friends. He would have less isolation. Right now, he seems to sit at the house a lot because without me picking him up and taking him out, he doesn’t get to go anywhere. This van would really help him out a lot,” said Patrick O’Hern.

“It would help my dad out a lot with his back. He’s 50 years old and he’s still able to pick me up and put me in a van. He’s strong, but he’s also getting older ,so it really would help a lot. It would help me out, too, with me being able to get out and see people. It would also be easier for when we need to go to doctors appointments or to get groceries. It would just help with everything,” said Jacob.  

Jacob’s family would like to ask Lowndes County and the surrounding communities to show their support by voting for Jacob.

“I also want to let everybody that does vote for me know that I appreciate their votes and help. And even if I don’t win, whether it’s me or someone down the road or even someone across the country, I hope that they get the use out of the van that they needed,” said Jacob.

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