Family receives donated wheelchair-accessible van

Teacher credits ABC-7 for making donation possible

Shelly's new ride

EL PASO, Texas - A GoFundMe page started by a middle school art teacher to help one of his students has resulted in a life-changing donation.

When ABC-7 met Rachel "Shelly" Salcido in April, she and her art teacher, Gabriel Aragon, hoped to raise enough money through crowd-sourcing to buy a van that could carry her electronic wheelchair.

"I knew in El Paso we have so many people who are willing to help out," Aragon said. "I kept encouraging Shelly, (saying) it might take a little while, but I knew we're going to get there."

It was sooner than they imagined.

Days after their story aired on ABC-7, they were contacted by someone who wanted to donate a van to Shelly.

"I couldn't believe it," Shelly said, smiling. "It was amazing."

"It was actually amazing," Aragon said. "That morning, I was giving my students updates about Shelly and I told them, 'I just need that one phone call that makes a difference.'

"And that afternoon I received that phone call. And that's what made the difference," Aragon said.

The van is already making a difference in Shelly's life.

"Now, I feel more independent because I've been going everywhere to all my school activities," said the Sun Ridge Middle School 8th grader. "I'm not limited to where I can be, to where I can go, or what I can do."

Shelly's art teacher is grateful that Shelly's physical limitations aren't limiting her future.

"For her going into high school, she's going to be able to participate in so many activities," Aragon said. "Having her wheelchair is not going to be an obstacle anymore.

"I just want to thank the viewers of KVIA (for) all the donations and all the support."

Shelly's last day of middle school is on Friday.

Aragon said now that her family has the van, they're planning summer road trips and Shelly is now entertaining the idea of attending college out of town.

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