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Community gives man gift of mobility

John HartRon (left) and Dianne Cole take their Dodge Caravan with a wheelchair lift for a test drive on Friday. Purchase of the vehicle was made possible in part through charitable donations.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The generosity of strangers has given Ron Cole reason to smile again.

Cole, who suffers from degenerative multiple sclerosis, received an early Christmas present Dec. 13. It was a van with a wheelchair lift, made possible in part by contributions to a fund established to help with a down payment on a suitable vehicle.

The fund was established by friend and fellow MS survivor Helen Turner and a few of her buddies. As a result of a story about Cole’s condition that appeared in The Union Dec. 5, the fund now contains over $3,000, more than enough to make a down payment. In addition, once Turner showed the newspaper story to bank lenders, they agreed to finance the entire transaction, including the down payment.



Meanwhile, the fund keeps growing.

“It feels like I’ve died and gone to heaven,” Cole said, after learning that residents had contributed in excess of $2,000 for a down payment on a wheelchair-lift equipped 1997 Dodge Caravan. “I just feel tickled. My life has mobility again.”




Cole, 39, a former stage-set builder, avid water-skier, surfer and hiker before he was diagnosed with MS five years ago, picked up the van Dec. 13 from Alta Sierra resident Barbara Abbey, whose husband used it shortly before he died.

The van will allow Ron and his wife, Dianne, the chance to more richly enjoy their lives. Now that he has transportation, Ron Cole said he hopes to work as a peer counselor to help those with the debilitating disease.

“I was happily surprised with the amount of outpouring from the community that made it able for me to get unstuck.” Mobility “means the world to a man who has lost it,” he said.

The Union’s story inspired one couple, Roy and Carol Crain of Alta Sierra, to set up a fund of their own for Cole at El Dorado Savings Bank.

The Crains’ son, Tom, developed multiple sclerosis several years ago. A van has made a world of difference for the now 52-year-old Tom, Carol Crain said.

“When we read about Ron, it was like church bells going off,” said Carol Crain, who purchased a van for her son about two years ago. “We thought, ‘we’ve been able to help our son, why not get the community to do the same?'”

Turner, who developed MS over 20 years ago, still finds it hard to believe her friend’s good fortune.

“This is an unbelievable ending,” she said. “Their whole life is going to change.”

And Turner?

“This is my best Christmas ever. This is so cool.”


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