Operation Transport Tony
Life dramatically changed for US Air Force veteran Tony Childress when he was diagnosed with stage 4 multiple sclerosis in 2017. Today, he is entirely wheelchair-bound. For years, his mother, Kathy Childress, transported him to doctors appointments in their small sedan, and there were many falls and injuries in the process. Getting an adaptive vehicle that could easily transport Tony in his wheelchair was a long term goal, but the costs were enormous.
UWS connected with the Childresses in 2021, offering Kathy caregiver support through our Family Services program and coordinating with community partners to complete home repairs and maintenance needs. In the fall of 2022, several community partners began collaborating to secure an adaptive vehicle for Tony. Geico recovered a mini van through the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides Program that was suitable to being adapted. Caliber Collision agreed to complete the needed repairs, and Mobility Works would handle the conversion to make the vehicle wheelchair-accessible.
Through donations and pro bono services from Geico, Caliber Collision, Mobility Works, UWS, and Special Forces Greenville Chapter, as well as a hugely successful GoFundMe campaign to the community set up by Kathy Childress, the $60,000 project was completed in mid-December. The van was presented to Tony and Kathy just a few days before Christmas 2022.
“This was a project we wanted to do, but it would have taken us years. We’re overwhelmed and we thank everybody,” said Kathy Childress at the presentation. “Words cannot express my gratitude for all you have done to make this dream come true,” Tony shared.
Thank you to each community member and organization that contributed to changing Tony and Kathy’s life through this project! We are always amazed by the generosity of our Upstate community.