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Conway woman vying for new accessibility van

Sharon Black of Conway
Sharon Black of Conway

Sharon Black of Conway desperately needs a new van so she can maintain the independence she has painstakingly created for herself.

If enough people vote for her in an online contest, she could win a new van that is being given away for National Mobility Awareness Month. The contest ends Tuesday.

Black, 57, said her old van is causing her problems, including missing work at Frank Theatres Riverside Stadium 12 in Conway, where she has been greeting movie-goers for years part-time.

“The lift is wearing out, and she has a new motorized chair that she can’t use because it’s too heavy,” said Ken Taylor, who also works there. “She keeps having to put money into the motor. It’s a constant money-drain just trying to keep it going,” he said.

The lift is wearing out, and she has a new motorized chair that she can’t use because it’s too heavy. She keeps having to put money into the motor. It’s a constant money-drain just trying to keep it going.

Ken Taylor, who works with Sharon Black

Black, who is three feet tall, was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, brittle bone disease. She has never walked in spite of having 13 surgeries on her legs when she was younger and being raised by her grandparents in West Virginia.

“I got out on my own when I was 25,” she said.

She learned to drive a car with hand controls. She kept her manual wheelchair in the car.

Sitting in her motorized chair, she would open the driver’s door and put the window down. Then she would climb in the window and sit on pillows so she could see. If she went shopping, she would have to wait in the parking lot until someone came by that would help her get her chair out, and when she finished shopping, she waited for someone to help her load the chair.

I love being independent; it helps me to deal with the situation.

Sharon Black

When she got a van, it changed everything. “I want very much to be independent and I have succeeded,” she said.

Taylor, who has worked with Black for more than seven years, said he has been in awe of her since Day 1.

“She is 100 percent independent, and the van is the key to her independence,” Taylor said, adding that Black never complains and has an infectious laugh. “She starts laughing and everybody wants to join in.”

“Sharon is a wonderful lady and a fantastic employee,” said theater manager Max Rittmeier.

To vote for Sharon Black, go to www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/sharon-black-conway-sc/

Rittmeier, Taylor and other theater employees are rooting for Black to win the van, and Taylor is one of several people who have shared the information on Facebook and other social media.

Because she can’t afford to keep putting money into fixing the old van and might not have a way to lift her motorized wheelchair, Black is concerned about keeping the independence she has worked so hard to have.

“Without a van, I am totally dependent on someone else for everything: food, grocery shopping and doctors appointments. I love being independent; it helps me to deal with the situation,” said Black, who is an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church.

To vote for Sharon Black, go to www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/sharon-black-conway-sc/

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