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.
"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."
Currently, in almost three months since the savings account was created, nearly $1900 has been donated towards Allen's cause. Many people, churches and organizations in the area has donated to her cause.
"I am very appreciative," said Allen. "A lot of people I have never met have donated. It really warms my heart and means a lot to me."
While the bank savings have thrived, the website, indiegogo.com, has not been as successful. So far nothing has been put into the account and as of right now, it only has a little over a month before the account is closed down.
Allen is thinking of events to raise more money in the spring, but no concrete plans have been made yet. She is still looking for a job where she can work out of her home.
The bank account will stay open for donations even after the website shuts down her account.
Van Dyne may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org