In 2008 and 2013, Barbara Fischer adopted A.J. and Arianna, respectively, both of whom have life-threatening conditions.
A.J. suffers from recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a condition that makes his skin extremely fragile. As a result, his body is covered in open wounds and bandages, and he relies on a wheelchair to protect the bottoms of his feet. His sister Ari was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder similar to ALS that affects muscle control. She uses a ventilator and is fully dependent on her wheelchair to get around.
But despite their disorders, Barbara says the siblings are two of the happiest kids she's ever known. "It's important to know that A.J. and Ari aren't your average 9-year-olds," she writes on the family's You Caring page. "Their personalities and outlooks on life are beautiful and inspiring, especially with the challenges they face on a daily basis."
So incredible! Which is why it was especially heartbreaking for the Fischer family when the wheelchair-accessible van Barbara used to transport A.J. and Ari to their doctors' appointments, the park, and their church broke down. Barbara's older son Andrew started a fundraising campaign in order to raise the $36,000 the family would need to get a new ride. And now, just four months later, thanks to the kindness of friends, family, and strangers, the Fischers have already reached their goal.
"I did not imagine this day would come," Barbara told Parents.com. "The total seemed impossible to reach, but my son Andrew spearheaded the campaign and kept my hope alive. I feel immense gratitude to everyone that gave and shared our story."
The Fischers have selected a 2016 Ford Transit 350, which is currently being fitted with all the accessibility features needed to get A.J. and Ari out and about. "I keep telling them the day will come that we will have a van," Barbara told us. "We have been very homebound and I think they will feel the relief when it actually arrives next week. I can't wait to see their response!"
To learn more about A.J.'s condition, watch this short documentary Andrew made a few years ago: