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Local Boy Competes in National Contest for Much-Needed Van

REEDS SPRING, Mo. -A Kimberling City boy is in the running for a national contest that could change his life. May marks National Mobility Awareness Month and as part of a special program, brand new wheel chair accessible vans are being given away.

REEDS SPRING, Mo. -- A Kimberling City boy is in the running for a national contest that could change his life.  May marks National Mobility Awareness Month and as part of a special program, brand new wheelchair-accessible vans are being given away.

Victor Kelbaugh suffers from a condition that has left him in a wheelchair and with limited mobility of his hands and arms, but in many ways, He's like every other 11-year-old boy in Missouri.

"Do you have a favorite (sports) team?" KOLR 10 Reporter Grant Sloan asked, 

"Baseball," says Victor. "The Cardinals."

"He’s a fun kid, he’s ornery, he likes to joke, he loves to play games, "says Victor's teacher Jancy Burke. "Everyone knows Victor, everyone loves Victor.".

Burke says the school has the ability to get Victor Kelbaugh to and from class, but the task his parents face when transporting their son to therapy sessions in St. Louis and Springfield is significantly more difficult.

"The van has got almost 200,000 thousand miles on it, its a '92, " says Victor's Dad, Jay Kelbaugh.

The van's lift is also worn out, it’s only capable of lowering Victor and his 200-pound wheel chair. For a period of time, his father has to quit work just to take care of his son, sometimes lifting him in and out by hand.

"Right now were worried about the safety of unloading and loading," says Victor's mother, Becci Kelbaugh, "It's gotten to the point that he doesn't want to go places. He's fallen off the ramp sideways in his wheelchair before."

Victor is now in a nation wide contest that gives away brand new wheelchair-accessible vans. He currently has roughly 13,000 votes, but his parents say that only has him in the running. It’s clear, however, he has the support of his community.

"It's very humbling," says Becci Kelbaugh, "we're always had to community behind us since he was born."

That could be in part because his parents are part of the Southern Stone County Volunteer Fire Department, but it could also be because their son keeps defying the odds.

"When we came home from the hospital he was on hospice, we had his funeral planned," say Becci Kelbaugh, "Every has always been there. Its just amazing."

Whatever the outcome of the competition, his parents say they will just keep moving forward.

"There's no choice but to be up beat," says Jay Kelbaugh, "you just have to keep going, God doesn't give you more than you can handle."

If Victor finishes in the top 10 percent of the votes, his story will then go before a panel of judges.

The last day of the contest is May 9, 2014 at midnight. To vote for Victor, click here.


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