PHOTOS: Accessible Van Expands Possibilities For Chai Lifeline Family

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img_8245Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Chai Lifeline supporter, the Bezalaly family will be able to transport their daughter Sarah in comfort and with dignity.

The last time the Bezalelys bought a new van was in 2004. The Honda Odyssey was perfect for the growing family’s four young children. Five years later, the their lives were upended when Sarah, their oldest, was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as the swine flu. The virus attacked her entire body, leading to multiple complications that included the loss of one of her legs. Sarah was now confined to a wheelchair.

As Sarah grew, she and the wheelchair got heavier. But Tamar faithfully lifted her daughter, and the chair, into the van whenever they needed to drive. Finally, the situation became untenable; Tamar injured her back and was warned not to continue lifting the wheelchair. Additionally, the van itself was now near the end of its useful life.

The Bezalelys knew they needed an accessible van with a wheelchair ramp for Sarah. But customized vans are very expensive, so Tamar began researching used vans that the family could afford. Then she received a call from her case manager at Chai Lifeline.

“She asked how my car was doing. I kind of giggled because our car is literally held together with duct tape. My kids have tried to spray paint over the scratches. Then she told me that someone had donated an accessible van to us. I had never heard of Chai Lifeline donating cars. When the case manager explained that the van was the gift of a friend of the organization, I was speechless.”

On Thursday afternoon, before the sun went down, as the Bezalelys (minus Sarah, who was still in high school) stood outside their home, a brand new Toyota Sienna was driven into the driveway. Atop the windshield was a bright red bow. Tamar, her husband, Rabbi Oren Bezalely and three younger children stood still for a moment, unbelieving. Then they joyously circled the van. They opened the doors and smelled the delicious new car odor. Rabbi Bezalely peered at the dashboard. The children sat in the seats. Everyone marveled at the lift that would allow Sarah to wheel herself up and into the van.

A few minutes later, Sarah came home from school, and a group of Chai Lifeline counselors arrived to celebrate the new van. The family and Chai Lifeline guests went outside. The back of the van was opened, and the lift operated so that Sarah could experience her new “ride.”

“This is beyond wonderful,” exclaimed Tamar. “I am very humbled. I don’t take it for granted. We could never have afforded this, and I am overwhelmed that someone did this for us.”

Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s executive vice president, said he was also humbled, but not surprised, at the donor’s generosity and his decision to remain anonymous. “This person knew that the gift would change the lives of everyone in the family. We are grateful for the kindness and thought that led to this amazing act.”

Rabbi Bezalely and Tamar hope they can one day return the favor. “Hashem gives everyone something in which he can help others. I hope that someday I can use what Hashem gave me to help this person,” Tamar said.

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(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)