VMI representatives arrived at the Access Mobility Systems Dealership to present 2015’s Dare to Compare Challenge winner, Angel Gomez-Perez, with a check for the cost of his van conversion. Gomez and his wife Desiree care for their 5-year-old daughter, Maya, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 8-months-old. “I cannot begin to tell you how many ways this van has improved our daily lives,” Gomez said. “An affordable and reliable option is what we needed and that’s exactly what we got.”

Before purchasing their Northstar E converted van, the Gomez family had a tough time transporting Maya to and from doctor’s appointments in their old work truck. “Maya’s wheelchair would have to be thrown in the truck bed and would get beat up in the process. The need to physically transport Maya in and out of a standard car seat was very tiring and even resulted in her feeding tube getting caught and yanked out of her stomach,” Gomez said.

As a prize for winning the Dare to Compare Challenge, Angel Gomez-Perez and his family were awarded the cost of their existing conversion.

Also in attendance at the check presentation was Reuben Hawkins, the Access Mobility Systems dealership representative who helped the Gomez family get their funding to purchase the van. “Reuben has been so monumental,” Angel said. “He pointed us to the conversion that we needed and he directed us to the means to get finance for it. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have a vehicle right now.”

With Desiree taking care of Maya full time, Angel Gomez works three jobs to help support their small family and pay for Maya’s medical expenses. Hawkins helped direct the Gomez family to apply for funding from the Washington Access Fund, helping them pay for their van and conversion.

The same day Hawkins referred the Gomez family to the Washington Access Fund, they went to the office to inquire about funding. “They were not your typical financier company,” says Angel. “They were a group of individuals who had the ability to help finance a vehicle for people with special needs and the sincerity that they showed was touching. They cared.”

For his part, Hawkins was more than happy to assist the Gomez family and said Maya made a big impression on him. “She’s a wonderful, young little girl who has an amazing smile and beautiful eyes. She just melts your heart,” he said. “To be able to give her and her family that gift, to just be able to go to the park or take her to the doctor’s has been the reason why I do the job that I do.”