Randy Googe Jr. hadn’t been at school for over a week. The 16-year-old didn’t have the flu, and he wasn’t cutting class.
Randy lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD, or Duchenne syndrome), a rare condition in which his skeletal muscles have broken down over time. The causes are genetic and unfortunately there’s no cure for the disease. In order to go to school and his physical therapy appointments, Randy requires a mobility van equipped with assistive devices for entering and exiting the vehicle.
In early October, Randy’s van was stolen and totaled. The thieves were found after a trained dog tracked them down two miles from the Googe’s apartment. They found the vehicle totalled, and criminal charges are being pressed against the suspects.
Randy’s father, Randal, was understandably devastated about losing the van.
“It was the only means we had to get my kid around, I don’t have a way to replace it,” said Randal.
Being without a van left Randy unable to leave the house, participate in school or go to physical and occupational therapy, which helps him manage his condition.
Upon realizing why Randy wasn’t coming to class, students and teachers at Bozeman High School, in Montana, were moved to do something to help their beloved classmate.
“I’ve taught Randy the last two years,” said his social studies teacher, Siobhan Gilmartin. “I know how great of a person he is. It just seemed so unfair that somebody whose life was already hard would be made that much harder.”
After starting a GoFundMe page with a goal of $10,000 for a replacement vehicle for his son, the Googe family quickly raised over $13,000 in just two days. As of November 6, the family has raised a total of $21,000 thanks to the support of their community and total strangers.
“I’m completely speechless,” said Randal. “People are awesome!”
The father and son are now hoping to purchase a new van with four-wheel drive capabilities to help navigate the Montana winter.
The Googes, like any other family, enjoy their free time spent together. In addition to playing video games with friends and going to school, Randy loves to go hunting with his father. This new wheelchair van can help keep that dream alive.
What a beautiful example of a community coming together to support someone in need. It’s heartwarming stories like these that we love to hear (and share) at Classic Vans.
Visit the family’s GoFundMe page to donate.
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