NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- A North Branford family won a new set of wheels made especially for their 22-year-old daughter, who is battling a neuromuscular degenerative disorder.
The shiny blue van, the MV-1, is the only factory built vehicle of its kind and now 22-year-old Alexandria Bode is its proud owner.
"This van is going to help me so much," she said.
She won a nationwide contest held by The Vehicle Production Group , the maker of the van, designed for people who are wheelchair bound.
Alex's submission was a video with her mom, Mary Caruso, which showed off their old clunker, a mini-van they converted to be wheelchair accessible.
"This video showed the clunker for how awful it was. It showed how horrible their van was, the door is not closing, the ramp is sticky, windows not coming down," said Mike Carney, VPG's Chief Marketing Officer.
The unedited version appealed to all six judges and beat out 644 other entries.
The call to the family was truly unexpected.
"I said to him 'Is this some sort of sick joke?' And he said 'Absolutely not.' And we put him on speaker and he said it again," Caruso said. "I think it took Alex and I, we screamed the next morning because we kept saying this just couldn't be happening."
"We were trying to get the money together to purchase it and I won it," Alex said.
Alex has Friedrich's Ataxia, a progressive neuromuscular disorder. This new set of wheels came at the right time.
"She's a senior in college, she's a liaison for her faculty at Southern and she volunteers. She has a job," Caruso said.
The new van means Alex can now live an even more independent life.
She hopes to go on a cross country trip with the new van. She also plans to share it with her older sister, who also has Friedrich's Ataxia.
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