A New Car!!!!!!!!

When I was a kid, there were two great things about staying home sick from school.

Great thing #1 was my Mom’s TLC. No matter how sick I was feeling (or how much I was faking it) my Mom always came to the rescue. After the bus passed the driveway and I knew school was out of the question that day, my Mom would spring into action. Mornings meant a thermometer, a warm blanket, cough medicine, a bowl of chicken soup and a nap. Totally awesome TLC.

When I woke up from my morning nap feeling better, that’s when great thing #2 came into play. Watching The Price is Right. Yes, by 11 AM EST, I’d be well enough to prop myself up in bed as “the first four contestants on The Price is Right” were announced. I’d be the invisible-playing-at-home-for-all-the-sick-kids-5th contestant every single round. I’d wager my teddy bear or blanket on whatever item rolled on stage for the pricing games and I’d always win. Once in a while, I’d even be cocky enough to wager just $1 to let the other contestants know that I was an elementary school master shopper who knew the exact price of the item and just wanted to rub it in their faces that they all overbid. When it came time to spin the “big wheel,” I’d always win $10,000 with my two spins and when it came time for the “showcase showdown” I’d always pass the first showcase to the other unlucky contestant and then bid within $100 on my showcase and walk away with BOTH. In my mind, I was The Price is Right sick-kid-playing-at-home grand champion. Bigshot. Forget quizzes and tests, I was a TV winner. In fact, I think I still have a few unused Hawaii, Jamaica, Grand Canyon and Florida trips tucked in a drawer somewhere.(Pictured above, the closed curtain that is about to whip open and reveal “A NEW CAR” and a happy guy winning the showcase showdown on The Price is Right but in reality, that was always me.)

Sure, the “showcase showdown” was cool but that wasn’t the highlight of the show for me. My highlight usually happened once or twice each episode. When it came time to walk up on that stage after bidding $1 to win my 120th sofa and recliner, kitchen appliance set or luxurious lady’s watch and jewelry set, I’d be playing it cool on the outside standing right next to Bob Barker but the reality was I would be on the edge of my sick bed with sick kid excitement when I saw a closed curtain in front of me. I just knew I was gonna hear Bob say, “Mike Savicki, you could win this — *curtain opens quickly* — A NEW CAR!” Those very words would send me into orbit, cure me from whatever I was feeling (or faking) and make me run around my bedroom like I was crossing a path of hot coals or was walking barefoot on thin ice. Yeah, I wanted that Chrysler, Dodge, Ford or Chevy and I was ready to take it home, elementary, junior high or high school illness be damned. (Yeah, I just might have faked it in high school once or twice.)

It didn’t matter if it was Plinko, Danger Price, Half Off, Hi Lo or One Away, that car was mine. Hole in One? Range Game? Shell Game? Poker Game? No biggie, it didn’t matter, I would always win. In fact, had I actually been playing, I’m sure I would have exactly 143 new cars in my garage even today. Yes, I was sick (or faked it) a lot.

Have I mentioned the getting or faking sick thing too much? Sorry. Feels good to come clean after all these years.

Now think about this. What if 1 new vehicle would change your life? Let’s forget The Price is Right for a moment and get serious. Disability has a keen way of making us all serious, doesn’t it? Here’s the reality — vehicles are expensive. That’s why people go absolutely nuts when they win one on game shows and that’s why I went nuts on my sick bed years before I even had my learner’s permit.

But some of us are in wheelchairs so let’s add the cost of a necessary wheelchair lift or ramp, hand controls and swivel seat to the price tag. Low effort steering? A few thousand bucks. Kneeling system? Even more. Cha ching.

Here’s another situation. You don’t drive and, as a passenger, you don’t want to go through the windscreen? A set of wheelchair tie-downs run at least $150. Add that cost, too.

As expensive as standard vehicles are these days, accessible vehicles are even more.

Here’s more reality. Last time I checked, The Price is Right doesn’t give away free accessible vehicles. So we have to pay. And we all know from experience that securing funding for an accessible vehicle that fits our needs remains a challenge. For some, it’s impossible.

All those realities together mean driving and mobility remain major uncertainties.

That’s why I was so psyched to hear about NMEDA’s Local Heroes program. What is it? It’s a component of National Mobility Awareness Month that’s coming up in May. If you haven’t yet heard of the project, here’s the scoop — three customized accessible vehicles (a Toyota, Honda and Chrysler) are up for grabs to three deserving “Local Heroes” from anywhere in the country. How do you win? Make a video, upload it to and get all your friends and family members to vote for you. You aren’t video inclined? Upload your story plus a photo and get votes rolling your way. Get creative. Go viral.

The contest is open to seniors, adults, kids, veterans, non-profits, churches, schools, you name it. Yep, anyone AND everyone who needs a vehicle can enter. But you can’t win if you don’t get people to vote for you. Voting is vital. Share your story and get votes. Got it? Good.

There is one more month of voting to go so if you want a vehicle then you NEED to stay at it every day. Try remembering this mantra — “Accessible vehicles aren’t cheap BUT getting votes to win one is priceless.” OK, that’s corny but you catch my drift.

Getting from Point “A” to Point “B” is expensive and difficult for everyone but when you have a disability it’s even more of a challenge. There are a lot of things in life that Mom’s TLC will cure but the price of accessible vehicles isn’t one of them. And last I checked, Drew Carey and The Price is Right still isn’t giving away kneeling vans with ramps and tie downs. So make it happen on your own. Enter and start advocating for yourself.

Good luck!