Kristen Dunleavy, 29, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy or Werdnig-Hoffman’s disease, which confines her to a wheelchair.
But that has not stopped the Verona resident from living a full life. Dunleavy teaches special education at Redwood Elementary School in West Orange and is much loved by fellow teachers and students there.
She gets around with a van that has specialized equipment, but it's been breaking down frequently due to constant use. It has left her stranded sometimes, preventing her from traveling.
That's where a contest from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, a non-profit group, comes in. They are sponsoring a contest where a person with the most votes can receive a new handicap-accessible van.
Dunleavy was nominated by her two sisters to be an entrant in the contest. People can vote for her at this link. Contest ends May 13.
People can vote once a day, Dunleavy said. People can also type promo code 797 and have their votes count as five instead of one.
Family, friends and colleagues have been spreading the word on the contest and Dunleavy's need.
"I think it's amazing," Dunleavy said about the support. "I am proud to be a teacher in this community."
The new van would really help, because a vehicle with a ramp would cost around $40,000 - even without the specialized equipment she needs, Dunleavy said.
To vote for Kristen Dunleavy, go to this website link.