Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 7, 2013

Woman seeks funds for specially equipped van

FLATWOODS — Earning the right to drive is a milestone for anyone, but for Mariah Scott, it was more than that.

Scott, 22, of Flatwoods was born with no arms or legs, a rare disorder called tetra-amelia. Despite the disorder, she has accomplished much. Since graduating from high school at Russell, she has studied at Ashland Technical and Community College and at Morehead State University, where she is on track to earn a bachelor of education degree in elementary/special education.

When she was 18, she took her written driver’s test and passed. Since then, she has practiced driving every chance she gets, but those chances are rare.

To drive, Scott must use a specially equipped van; the closest such van is in Fayette County, so she and her grandmother, Edna Callihan, made several trips there so Scott could practice. She also received training from Katy Greene of the UK Driving Program through the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

On June 21, Scott took the driving test in Fayette County and passed with a perfect score to receive her driver’s license.

“You’re supposed to have 400 hours of driving to get your license,” Scott, who lacks that amount, said. “My score on the test was so good, they said not to even worry about it.”

The van Scott uses accommodates her wheelchair and also has special instruments that allow her to operate the vehicle with the stubs on her arms, or her “nubbins,” as her grandmother calls them.

“There’s a joy stick for the gas and brake and there’s a joy stick for steering,” Scott explained. “I use a screen to start the car, lock the doors, change gears.”

Her driving test wasn’t easy, either. Scott said she drove on New Circle Road and in downtown Lexington. “I’m good at parallel parking but on the turnabouts, I was awful,” she said.

Still, she passed the test with a perfect score.

Now her challenge is to drum up enough money for a van.

Her first step was to establish a bank account where donations can be accepted. Mariah Scott’s Van Fund has been set up at Home Federal Savings and Loan in Flatwoods, which is Scott’s bank. Donations can be made directly to that fund.

She and her grandmother said they are devising other means to raise money.

Scott needs the van for transportation to and from school and eventually will need it to drive herself to work each day.

Estimated cost of a basic van is $25,000; Scott will need modifications costing up to $100,000, which will be provided by the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation if Scott is able to get the van. Scott will have the responsibility of maintaining the van and keeping the insurance paid. The van is expected to last 10 years.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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