Donations help buy handicap van for paralyzed former deputy
BUSH, La. -- A year ago, we told you about a former St. Tammany Parish deputy still struggling with paralysis caused by a crash a decade ago.
Then, Mary Mayo had one request to help her take back her life -- a handicap van. You responded.
"Oh my God," she said seeing the completed vehicle for the first time. "It feels like I'm 15 and getting my first car."
Mayo says it's all because of the kindness of others.
"It took nine months," Mayo said, pausing to stop tears. "For Brad Guarino and Shawn Woessner to help me raise the money for this car. And I want to thank the community, everybody who donated, and there was a lot of them."
Mayo has been bound to a wheelchair since June 2007 when a tree fell on the unit she and her fiance' Beau Raimer, both St. Tammany deputies, were riding in as part of a funeral procession for another deputy.
In the decade since then, she's learned to live around her home, but she wanted more.
In February 2017, she made a plea to the community, with support from two friends, to help her branch out with a handicap van. After receiving $60,000 in donations and generous deals from vehicle businesses, she got that van.
"We saw your story last year in February and we contacted her and asked her if she was still interested in getting a van," said Gina Scott with Crescent Vans. "Luckily for her she had raised enough money to make this happen."
"There's nothing more I could want," Mayo said. "I got my freedom back today."
Along for the ride is Willow, Mayo's service dog from the Doggone Express program at Rayburn Correctional facility, where inmates train shelter dogs to help with life's challenges.
"I've got Willow. I've got a job," Mayo said. "I've got a vehicle to get to my job now with Louisiana Pure. It's just amazing. Everything's coming together."
And she's thankful for the community that helped make this dream a reality.