South Bend family launches on-line campaign for mobility van

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A South Bend Mother challenged by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) entered a local contest to win a mobility van with a lift, to help her gain back some of her independence.

Unfortunately Heather Tetzlaff-Smith lost, however her family is not giving up hope to put her in the driver's seat of a van.

They have launched an internet donation campaign to raise $40,000, so far after a month they have raised 10-percent of their goal.

"I was diagnosed with MS in 1998," said Telzlaff-Smith.

Coping with MS is emotional, but this single mother doesn't let that stop her in life.

She said, "A few years ago I started relying heavily on my mobility scooter, especially to do things around the house and keep up with my son."

 Her son Ezra is 9-years-old.

"I'm in fourth grade and in my spare time I mostly like drawing, playing video games and racing my motorcycle," said Ezra.

He helps out around the house often. His mom is able to live a fully independent life, except for one major aspect- transportation.

Telzlaff-Smith said, "I'd like to go to his school for activities without having to ask someone to take me out of the scooter or load up the scooter there to get me there."

For years Telzlaff-Smith's family has been doing just that.

Her sister Hillary Beck said, "It has been a roller coaster, mainly for her, but we are all trying to hang in there and support her as much as we possibly can."

They say purchasing a mobility van with a lift isn't feasible- even a used van is too costly.

"To buy a decent used vehicle is still between $35,000 to $40,000," said Telzlaff-Smith.

So last month Telzlaff-Smith's family launched a fundraiser at called "Heather needs a van."

Beck said, "We've developed this mechanism in the Internet age, they're trying to pull people together and have one bucket, if you will, where people can come together and help us out with this cause."

Telzlaff-Smith said, "In four weeks time we've already made 10-percent of the goal and I think that is amazing."

"We both want it, because then we can go places together like without help, we can go to the movies, parks, restaurants, and really do whatever we want- we can go shopping," said Ezra.

"I've never been able to take him anywhere by myself, I've always needed assistance either for my own mobility or for his own safety," said Telzlaff-Smith.

Right now they have raised more than $4,000.

"It really goes until the goal is accomplished, until we raise the money we need," said Telzlaff-Smith.

Beck said, "Hopefully that will mean eventually there will be a van in the future. For her to have that stress taken away of not having to work out logistics and just go would be an awesome thing- it would be a beautiful thing."

And would restore the part of Telzlaff-Smith's independence this disease has erased.

Telzlaff-Smith said, "Having lost that freedom it has been really difficult for me. I'm really excited to be getting a van soon hopefully."

If you would like to help Telzlaff-Smith reach her goal of getting a van with a lift log on to and that will take you right to the donation website.

You can also make a donation in person by stopping by any Wells Fargo branch and tell them you would like to make a donation into Deborah Tetzlaff's account for Heather Tetzlaff. Deborah is Heather's mother.  

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