Friday, August 21, 2015

When kids love their Mom, others do too

Michelle Garn, 42, of Potterville, MI, had a stroke 13 years ago. Since then, the Mom of three has been confined to a wheelchair. Her disability hasn't made her a worse parent. According to her kids, she's the best Mom in the world. But money is short, and she's been ferrying them to games and sports and friends' homes in a 15-year-old van which is rusting away. Hoping to help, her son Brendan, 17, entered an essay contest for National Mobility Awareness Month praising his Mom. First prize was a new van, but he didn't win. Since he made the finals, he was written up in the Lansing State Journal, and his story was seen by Tom Kolassa, chair of the Olivet College Board of Trustees. Tom wanted Michelle to know, "You didn't win this contest, but you are first place in somebody's heart." Neither Michelle, her son Brendan or her 13-year-old daughter Robin expected what happened next. As you can see from this photo, Robin cried.

    "Words can't describe how happy I am. It's so nice," said Robin. Photo by Dave Wasinger

What brought her to tears was a 2014 handicapped accessible Chrysler Town & Country van with only 15,000 miles on it. Tom purchased it for $45,000 and gave it to Robin's Mom. They all remember the day he delivered his gift. Jason Babcock, sales manager for Freedom Motors, gave the family a gas gift card and showed Michelle the van's features including the new hydraulic ramp.

"Oh my gosh," she said. "It's beautiful! I don't know how to thank you." Brendan added, "That someone would actually do this. It's unbelievable." To meet the Garn family and read the essay which inspired Tom to donate the van, visit

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