WELLSBURG - Getting around is a lot easier these days for the Burner family from Weirton, thanks to the generosity of Allietta Ford in Wellsburg.
Alietta Ford owner Matt Allietta donated a van equipped with a chair lift that another family had traded to the Burners, whose daughter, Kaitlyn, suffers from mitochondrial disorder, a genetic condition that causes low muscle tone, uncontrollable epilepsy "and a slew of other health issues," her father, Jerry, said.
"It's been tough," he said. "She's been in and out of hospital since she was about a month old with seizures. She was finally diagnosed when she was 4-and-a-half."
HELP FOR KAITLYN — Matt Allietta, right, of Allietta Ford in Wellsburg recently presented Jerry Burner, left, and his wife Kris, with a chair lift-equipped van to accomodate their daughter, Kaitlyn’s, special needs. Kaitlyn, 13, suffers from mitochondrial disorder, a genetic condition which robbed her of muscle tone, causes uncontrolled epilepsy and a slew of other health issues. -- Contributed
Kaitlyn, now 13, attends Weir Middle School.
"It's been difficult through the years, especially for my wife to get around without both of us being present, due to having to lift her chair into the back of our vehicle," he said. "As Kaitlyn's gotten bigger and her chairs have gotten bigger, it really was at the point where my wife couldn't travel with Kaitlyn without both of us being present."
He said his wife had to juggle everything from doctor visits to shopping trips so she could fit them around his work schedule.
That's where Matt Allietta and Allietta Ford came into the picture.
"We took the van in as a trade-in and I thought there could be someone who might need it," Allietta said. "I made a few calls and Make-A-Wish put me in touch with Jerry."
Allietta said he "wanted to do something nice for someone in need, to give back."
"Everyone always seems to want to take and take, I think it's nice to give back once in a while," said Allietta, who donated a car to the Salvation Army a few years back. "We don't always realize how lucky we are. So when the family traded the van in, I decided to donate it to a family in need.
"This little girl is stuck in a wheelchair, it's her chance to get out. Her parents won't have to pick her up and put her in the car every time they go out. Now, they can use the lift to get her in the car and take her to the doctor's office or anywhere else. It will help her get out and see things, they can take her more places now."
Allietta admits he likes the idea that the van has gone to someone "who needs it, who deserves it and can use it for good."
"It makes me think if we've got our health, we've got it all," he said. "It's just my turn to give back to the community, to someone who deserves it."
The Burners say they weren't expecting the gift.
"We were very surprised," Jerry Burner said. "It's just not something a lot of businesses would do, we weren't expecting the kindness and generosity for them to do something like that. But Matt and his team, they did it. Truly, our prayers were answered."