Vermont Community Supports Young Woman With Disabilities

Published September 4, 2022

Friends and well-wishers have come together to help raise funds for Georgia Reed of Calais, Vermont. According to Vermont paper Seven Days, the fundraising campaign aims to help pay the $60,000 down payment on a side entry lift-van. The new van would allow 22-year-old Reed to travel in her power chair and continue to engage in her local community.

Who is Georgia Reed?

On December 22, 1999, Georgia was born to Pam and John Connel. At two weeks old, she was in a tragic accident during her first family outing. According to The Stowe Reporter, a plow truck collided with the Connel's car, leaving Georgia in critical condition. Her mother didn't survive.

Georgia was quickly transferred to UVM Medical in Burlington, Vermont. The doctors assessed that she sustained a cervical fracture and severe brain bleed, and the injuries left her with a lifelong seizure disorder that necessitates 24/7 care.

Five years after the accident, Georgia's father married Josie, who would later adopt Georgia and her foster mother. Josie recalls that Georgia was learning to walk when the two first met in a video for the fundraiser. She also recalls witnessing the resilience of Georgia's spirit. How even after suffering seizure-induced paralysis, Georgia would still find ways to get herself moving.

At age 11, following complications with her spinal cord, Georgia unfortunately finally lost her ability to walk. Around that same time, her father died in a sailing accident. Josie, Georgia's foster mother, then married Ben Reed, who would formally adopt Georgia.

Despite the continuous onslaught of tragedies thrown her way, Georgia has persisted. She's done so with a positive attitude, a strong will for independence, and an awe-inspiring love for life.

Georgia's tenacity for accessing her world is due, in part, to her use of a power chair. The chair includes a feature that allows her to stand while using it. According to Georgia's grandparents, the chair lets Georgia "...lead, and not have to follow. And she does lead you."

According to the Gofundme Page, Georgia has built an entire life in her community. She enjoys helping in both the garden and the kitchen, and she maintains email correspondence with a thriving network of friends and family. She also loves her volunteer jobs at the library, the food bank, and the local museum.

The need for a new van

Georgia has achieved her volunteer opportunities and many of her social interactions through her school. While enrolled at school, Georgia received support through the Transition Academy. Transition Academy is a community-based program for young adults with disabilities. Georgia had access to a van that could accommodate her power chair through this program.

Now that Georgia has graduated, she can no longer use the van provided to her by the school. Although Josie, Georgia's mother, has a van, it is a rear entry. Georgia would need a side-entry van with a ramp to accommodate the powerchair.

Georgia's mother has been applying for grants and has been in talks with local advocacy organizations to find a suitable van. Unfortunately, no grants will cover the upfront costs of any vehicle, and the estimate is around $60,000 for a down payment.

The fundraiser

On November 27, 2021, friends of the Reeds launched a Gofundme on behalf of Georgia. The expressed purpose of the fundraiser has been to help the family raise enough money to cover the down payment for the van. The fundraiser raised more than its intended goal in less than two months − to date, the fund has raised $61,443.

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