National Mobility Awareness Month Partners:

Mary Devriendt

Lawton, MI

Entry Photo for Mary Devriendt - Lawton, MI

Matthew Steven Shea is my hero … and my son. Matthew was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the young age of 26. I have watched my son’s condition deteriorate over the last few years. He can no longer work and his physical mobility is greatly diminished. Thank God he has a loving wife, Julianna, who has stood by him and fiercely works to give him the best life possible. She also has had some medical problems yet she, too, remains positive and does not lose hope for a better tomorrow.
Matthew chooses to look at the positive things in his life. He doesn’t complain or feel sorry for himself and still finds joy in life. He follows the principle that it isn’t what he ”can’t” do anymore but what he “can” do. He even finds humor in the steroid infusions he receives every 4 weeks, the fact that he must wear Depends, that his legs collapse, the heavy leg braces, the tremors in his once artful hands, his diminished ability to remember things.
My son is much stronger than I am when it comes to accepting this cruel disease. I have learned so much from him. I’ve learned the true meaning of acceptance. I’ve learned that no matter what, there is still joy and happiness to be found in life.
Matthew now relies on the use of a wheelchair when he goes out. He has a power chair however there is no way to transport it. Julie’s physical condition prohibits her from lifting the heavy wheelchair in and out of their vehicle – a vehicle that is literally falling apart. The possibility of purchasing a handicap van is financially out of the question.
I know that a handicap van would open the world up again for Matthew. Being able to transport his power chair would allow him to do so many of the things he loves to do – going to outdoor festivals, fairs, fishing, parks, shopping.
I have a dream for my son. Not only of finding a cure for this debilitating disease, but if that is not to be, of a satisfying life for him. I dream that he can have a handicap van so that he may enjoy the simple things in life again. To be awarded a handicap van would be an enormous blessing. And Matthew would be the most grateful, humble recipient of them all.