Disabled Greenback teen competes for wheelchair-accessible van
GREENBACK—Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Hill rarely leaves her Greenback home except to go to the doctor or Greenback School for a half day. She spends most of her days watching television, being read to by her mom or grandparents, and sitting with her Chihuahua, Daulton.
Cheyenne suffers from severe cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic. She has also been diagnosed as mentally retarded and legally blind.
Her mother, Christal Hill, believes her life could drastically change for the better with the addition of one simple thing — a wheelchair-accessible van.
This is why she is competing in the National Mobility Awareness Month's online contest in which four "local heroes" will be awarded a vehicle tailored to their needs. People can vote once every 24 hours per email address during the month of May at http://bit.ly/1bKHu8G. The four contestants with the most votes win. The results will be announced in June.
Cheyenne was born three and a half months early. Her early arrival caused her brain to bleed and have cysts, resulting in cerebral palsy, said Hill.
While Cheyenne cannot move or talk, she is her mother's inspiration.
"Cheyenne encourages me to get up and look for the positive," said Hill. "I was having a bad day last week and was telling Cheyenne I wasn't feeling well. She raised her arms for me to come give her a hug and kissed me on the head and smiled real big. And I thought, here is this child who can't roll over. We have to do everything for her, and she is comforting me."
Hill says her daughter is the reason she strives to be her very best. Instead of feeling burdened knowing she will be caring for Cheyenne for the rest of her life, she feels blessed.
Yet, as Cheyenne has grown, Hill, a single-mom, has not been able to move her. Getting to the doctor is an ordeal, and Hill relies on the help of her father to push Cheyenne up a ramp and hoist her into an old conversion van.
"The van is on its last legs, and my dad is getting to the point where he cannot move her anymore," said Hill. "I would love to be able to take Cheyenne to the park, out to eat, to school functions like ball games. Going to Walmart is a big treat for her."
Hill says Cheyenne is a very happy girl with a kind nature who has never met a stranger and has lots of friends at school.
"At first, I was nervous they would pick on her but they love her and are very protective of her. They love pushing her around in her wheelchair," she said.
Cheyenne blows kisses for "thank you" and "I love you," and is working on saying her first word, "Hello." You may hear Christmas music in the Hill household as it is a surefire way to make Cheyenne smile.
While a van would give Hill the ability to get Cheyenne out of the house, it would also enable Hill to get a job and better provide for her daughter. Last year, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from an online program in hopes of finding employment.
"I worked as a nurse for about 10 years and then I had to start staying home with her full time," said Hill. "With a job, there could some extra money to give her some sort of a life."
This is the third time Hill has entered Cheyenne into the National Mobility Awareness Month online contest. She is hoping the third time is the charm.
"Winning this contest will allow Cheyenne to have a life outside the house. That's what I dream for her, so that she is not a recluse and homebound. I am relentless. I will never give up," she said.
Hill is also hosting an online fundraiser. So far, only a few hundred dollars have been raised towards her goal of $25,000. To donate money, visit http://bit.ly/1GVYIxH.
According to http://ww.mobilityawarenessmonth.com, May is National Mobility Awareness Month and is dedicated to showing the world how people with disabilities can live active, mobile lifestyles.