BELLAIRE Leslie Allen, 52, was born with spina bifida.
It is a birth defect where the vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord do not fully form.
All her life, Allen has been confined to a wheelchair but she has not let it stop her. Until lately, she has worked, took care of herself and been able to do whatever she wanted.
T-L Photo/KAYLA VAN DYNE
Bellaire’s Leslie Allen has been able to live independently throughout most of her life despite battling through the struggles of having spina bifida. She’s hoping to raise money to purchase a handicapped-accessible van to help her regain some of the independence she began losing after a car accident in 2007.
"I am very independent," said Allen in her Bellaire home.
"I have lived on my own since I was 19 years-old."
Allen has recently gone to an electric wheelchair after tearing the rotator cuff in her shoulder. The tear came from a car accident in 2007. After stopping in Lowes on her way home from work, Allen was hit by an uninsured driver.
It was not until two and a half years later that the doctors discovered the torn rotator cuff.
The doctors could not fix it; the cuff was too badly gone.
In 2010, a day before Thanksgiving, Allen was lifting herself into her car like any other day after working at the Children's home of Wheeling, but the rain made it difficult.
The brakes on Allen's wheelchair slipped, causing her to fall causing more injury.
Allen did find a joint implant surgeon, but she could not be operated on because of an ulcer on her already amputated leg. Her leg was amputated even more due to how slow she heals.
After finally having the surgery on her shoulder, Allen has had to move to an electric wheelchair, but had to trade in some of her independence.
She is unable lift herself in and out her car, which she is selling.
"It's been really rough," said Allen. "I can't go anywhere It's completely changed my life."
Now Allen is working from home, Allen began to look for a solution to fix her transportation issue. The solution Allen has discovered is a van with a wheelchair lift that allows the driver to stay in the wheelchair rather then transfer from one seat to another.
Allen needs $60,000 to be able to purchase the van she needs.
To raise the money, Allen is working with a website called indiegogo.com that helps those who are in need.
The website was in the news a few months ago when a bullied grandmother on a bus was sent on vacation with the funds that were raised through this site.
Donations for Allen can be found on the website by placing wheelchair accessible van in the search bar. Another way donations can be made is through a savings account through Progressive Bank. Donations will be accepted until Jan. 15. Fliers can be found in local businesses with more information. One donation from a local business has been made.
"I'm so use to being independent and working outside of my home With this van, I can keep my independence," said Allen. "I don't like to depend on people. I am still young enough to do it."
Van Dyne can be reached at email@example.com