Breaking News
More () »

'Village of angels' help fund wheelchair-accessible van for Corpus Christi woman

Stefanie Cuperus' fundraiser will be held at Calvary Chapel on May 28 at noon. There is also a GoFundMe page.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi local, Stefanie Cuperus has been in a wheelchair for more than 20 years and doctors have told her she wouldn't live past 18. 

"I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at 12 years old," she explained.

She works part-time and volunteers at a local church. Cuperus substitutes at Veterans, Kaffie and King for half a day and on Sundays, she reads to little ones at Calvary Chapel. 

She's been living her life to the fullest all while saving for a new ride. She keeps herself in go-mode, but recently she's been a little held back. 

Cuperus said, "I got a wheelchair accessible vehicle three years ago from a friend. It was an older one and it got a point where it got too rusted underneath, and so it's not able to be repaired."

Aside from the rust, the van also has technical issues. "Usually, it takes about five minutes. Depending on if the ramp comes out or not," she added.

Then one day, Jeana Banta met Cuperus cruising on the street. 

Banta is a mother of a child with disabilities. She told 3NEWS, "she is an inspiration to me. She doesn't let what she's going through get in the way of living her life and I thought that was incredible, so I wanted to meet her and ask her to be my friend."

A Go-Fund-Me page was then started in order to help pay for a new wheelchair accessible vehicle for Cuperus. 

Cuperus is thankful, she told 3NEWS, "she has a village of angels looking after her."

Banta knows how important it is to lend support to people. "My son was onset for his syndrome at birth, but he was about two weeks old, and it was a long journey. We didn't have a diagnosis until he was about a year a half old," she said.

Banta added that wheelchair accessible vehicles are not cheap. She explained, "just the conversion in itself is $25,000 to $30,000 and that's the conversion. So, you add the vehicle with the conversion on top of that, new handicap vans can run anywhere to $60,000 to $90,000."

She is hopeful that since she offered a helping hand, she hopes the Coastal bend will too.

"Having a van, having a way out of your home when you are confined to a wheelchair, is your ticket to freedom. Think about how often, "we'll just hop in the car and run down the street to grab a soda or to run a quick errand" and we take that for granted," Banta said.

The Calvary Chapel will host a fundraiser on May 28. Click here for the website to the fundraiser.

More from 3News on KIIITV.com:  

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for your daily news and exclusive extended interviews.

Do you have a news tip? Tell 3!

Email tell3@kiiitv.com so we can get in touch with you about your story should we have questions or need more information. We realize some stories are sensitive in nature. Let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.

Before You Leave, Check This Out