Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Donation of van helps family of girl with rare form of epilepsy

SPRING HILL — One good deed begets another. So learned the family of 9-year-old Alexis Corey, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy and must use a wheelchair.

The girl's mother, Amanda Gallardo, had been staging yard sales to raise money for the purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van for the family. Friends and neighbors donated items to keep the yard sales going.

Word spread.

"From there, it's just blossomed and grown," Gallardo, 29, said recently, with a nod to the used but spiffy Econoline in the driveway.

Andrew Williams, manager of MedFleet, which has ambulance stations in Brooksville and New Port Richey, got word that Gallardo was struggling to lift her daughter and chair in and out of their well-worn 1999 Suburban.

"I had a Suburban, and I know how hard it would be. And the child's going to get bigger and heavier," Williams said.

"We had one vehicle ready for replacement," Williams said of MedFleet, a family-owned company that has provided ambulance services for 41 years. He referred to a 2006 Econoline E250. the standard for a wheelchair transport fleet.

MedFleet's owners decided to donate the van to the family, which includes father Chris Corey, 33, and a 4-year-old boy, Charlie. Williams wanted to make it a first-rate gift.

He asked George's Wholesale Tires, a MedFleet supplier in New Port Richey, "to go through it, head to toe, to make sure it's in good working order."

The company did so, putting on four new BFGoodrich tires, valued at $800, and promising a year's worth of oil changes — all free.

Williams called on Hudson's Hi-Tech Collision Centers, which performs body work for MedFleet, "to make sure it looked good."

"We took all the stripes and decals off, painted it, repaired it, did some refurbishing, and a striper put a graphic design on the vehicle," assistant manager Marlene Wimberly said.

Hi-Tech gleaned the donation of a bench seat to accommodate Charlie in the back of the van from Pasco Auto Salvage of Hudson and installed new wheelchair securements donated by Mobility Works of Akron, Ohio.

"We help people out daily, but not on that level," Hi-Tech owner Dan McCorry said. "We paid our help, but a lot of people gave their time. We've got a great crew here, with heart."

McCorry valued the work at $7,000 to $8,000, adding, "That's nothing to what MedFleet donated."

With delivery of the van to the Gallardo-Corey family in late April, Gallardo said, "I look outside just to make sure it is still there because I feel like I've been dreaming. I can't tell you how much backache it has saved us."

Alexis was "a normal, healthy kid" when at age 7 she came down with a fever, fatigue and droopy behavior, her mother said. During the night, her father "heard something weird" and went to the child's room. "She was having her first seizure," Gallardo said.

After a brief stop at Oak Hill Hospital, Alexis was quickly transferred to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where she remained in a medically induced coma for more than four months in an effort to overcome the seizures associated with the diagnosis: febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome.

Later, she was transferred to Miami Children's Hospital for another month's stay.

"She stopped breathing when she had the seizures, so she has a lot of brain damage," Gallardo said. "She can't walk and can say only a few words. She's aware mentally. She knows what's going on, but she can't verbalize and can't make her wants known. She will nod appropriate responses. I think she feels trapped in her own body."

The girl is on waiting lists for rehabilitation services, but not many places accept children, her mother said.

Alexis requires 24-hour care, provided by her mother. Her father is employed at the Walmart Distribution Center in Ridge Manor.

Meanwhile, aid continues to be offered, most recently with a fundraising jam and raffle at Rookies 19 Sports Bar & Grill on Commercial Way.

"Our next mission," Gallardo said, "is to get the bathroom converted for a wheelchair."

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

   
Comments
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rowdies fall to Penn FC

Rowdies fall to Penn FC

By Darek SharpTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For the second time this season, Penn FC got two goals from a former Rowdie that led the way to a win over Tampa Bay.Lucky Mkosana doubled his season total Friday in a comeback 2-1 win before an...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

At first I thought it was a snake.Because wouldn’t it be typically Florida to come home and find a snake poking its nose out from under your stove? Which wouldn’t be a problem or anything. I would just have to move out is all.But no, the creature tha...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

RIVERVIEWJaime Rodriguez, 78, popped the question Friday morning but skipped the "getting down on one knee" part."If I get on my knee, you’d have to help me," he told the emcee a moment before asking Luz Rivera to marry him.Rivera, 69, smiled and sai...
Updated: 8 hours ago