Community buys new van for teen with cerebral palsy

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 23:35:33-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Tony Bonofiglo is a bright senior at Forest Hills Northern. He loves outdoor sports like horseback riding, skiing, and NASCAR. However, cerebral palsy has kept him confined to a wheelchair his entire life.

But Tony and his family need an additional set of wheels: a handicap-equiped van. "Our 1996 van is falling apart and doesn’t run all the time," Tony said. "Having a new handicap van would allow me to be out in the community."

Now a new van is waiting at Courtesy Dodge in Grand Rapids.

Friends, family and the community responded to the need for the new van with thousands of dollars in donations, and Tony's mother Dianne says enough money has been raised to pay for the van in full which is waiting for them at Courtesy Dodge in Grand Rapids. They still need about $5,000 to convert the van before bringing it home.

Roxy Stawicki and Carrie Tatreau set-up a Gofundme page which helped reach the goal. "We know about that kind of stuff because we both have kids with special needs," said Stawicki. "We know how much you have to do."

Other donations poured in from students at Forest Hills Northern High School. A large donation from a Noto's Wine event put on by Lori's Voice helped push the fundraiser to its final goal.

"We’ve had lots of donations and still have $5,500 to go," said Tatreau. "The money needed now is to pay for the conversion, a completely separate cost."

If you would like to help the Bonofiglo's reach their goal, click here.

Tony plans to attend the Forest Hills Transition Center after graduation to learn the skills he needs to be independent. His mother said the new van will help launch Tony into the future he deserves.