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'I’ll just feel very safe driving now': West Michigan family surprised with mobility van

“I’ll just feel very safe driving now,”; West Michigan family surprised with mobility van
Posted at 8:56 PM, Dec 07, 2021

(WXMI) — It’s the moment that brought relief and a bit of confusion for the Pickem family. 

“What! Oh my gosh,” Denise Pickem, mom, exclaimed as she saw a bright-blue van in the garage of a West Michigan home. 

As she and her two children stepped farther into the garage, about a dozen people hiding behind the door screamed, “Surprise!” 

“What is going on?” asked an overwhelmed Pickem. 

On Tuesday, Lori’s Voice, a Coopersville-based nonprofit organization that helps disabled children, surprised the family with a specially equipped van. 

READ MORE: Lori's Voice gives children the gift of mobility

Pickem’s youngest son, 16-year-old Trenton, who was born with a disorder that caused his brain to stop developing, uses a wheelchair. 

“I’ll have heat and the muffler won’t be loud,” joked Pickem after the reveal. 

The family’s current van, which is about 11 years old, lost heat in recent weeks on top of other issues like a rotted floorboard and a broken muffler. 

“With Trenton, I can’t just hop in the car and go,” said Pickem. “I have to think about lifting him into his wheelchair and then think about getting his wheelchair down the hall and the wheelchair into the van, strapping it down.”

READ MORE: 'It will always be warm for her': Lori's Voice finds new van for family with special needs

According to Lori’s Voice, specially equipped vans can cost upwards of $80,000, which is a price often inaccessible to those in need of one. When board members learned of Pickem’s van's condition, the organization says they wanted to help however possible.

“Denise is one of these people that’s advocating for every other special needs family out there, but won’t ask for herself,” said David Hastings, Lori’s Voice co-founder and board president. “She’s looking out for everyone else.”

A moment that initially shocked the Pickem family brought a sense of thankfulness that now steers them home.

“I’ll just feel very safe driving now,” said Pickem.

READ MORE: Nonprofit provides the gift of mobility age infant to 101

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