WASHINGTON TERRACE -- It was a special evening for Wyatt Ferlin and his family as they rolled into the parking lot of their LDS church in their brand-new van.
When the van came to a stop, the doors automatically opened and a ramp rolled out onto the ground. Wyatt, his little brother, Rhett, and parents Mike and Kirstin came down the ramp to a cheering crowd lining the church sidewalk.
Wyatt, 10, suffers from the effects of cerebral palsy so he functions much like an infant and can't bathe, dress or feed himself.
The $64,000, fully-loaded vehicle is the result of numerous donations from fundraisers held over the past several months. The initial effort was to purchase a lift-conversion kit that would assist Wyatt and his wheelchair in and out of his vehicle. But because the donations were so generous, the family was able to buy a van with the lift kit already installed.
"This has been a miracle," said Kristin. "I haven't had to lift him at all. I haven't turned down one opportunity to go anywhere, either. When we have someplace to go, we go now."
Karen and Jeff Johnson, who spearheaded the fundraising efforts, were among the many friends and family members cheering the family as they pulled into the parking lot.
"This is what it's all about," Karen Johnson said. "This is the result of the generosity that's out there in our community."
Jeff Johnson said many private donations were made from fundraising efforts. The Weber School Foundation also donated and the Ferlin family came up with the rest of the money needed to buy the van.
"When the van was presented to them, you should have seen Wyatt. He was so excited he could hardly sit still," Jeff Johnson said. "It was absolutely incredible to see."
Cerebral palsy can affect learning, sight, hearing, moving and thinking. Kirstin went into labor three months early after becoming ill with toxemia, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the mother's blood pressure can climb dangerously high. When Wyatt was born he weighed only 2 pounds 5 ounces.
Last April, Wyatt and his mother were involved in a crash that destroyed their van. That's when the community pulled together and organized the fundraisers.
"We just can't say enough to everyone. To people we've known for a long time and to people we've never even met who have come forward and donated," Kirstin said. "They don't know how much they have changed our lives."