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Paying it forward

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Cottrells pass handicapped-accessible van to another needy member of the community.

By Todd Martin

When Andrea and George Cottrell received a van from Shelby County Community Charities last year, they knew they wouldn’t have it forever.

And when Andrea Cottrell met Ava King, a 7-year-old at Clear Creek Elementary School who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, heart conditions and epilepsy, she said she knew where the van eventually would go.

“I met Miss Ava in April at school, and I went home and said, ‘George, that family needs a van,’” she said. “He told me that was fine with him, so we decided then that we’d give it to them.”

When George Cottrell passed away last month, everything was put into action.

“We put about fifteen thousand dollars up for the van for George and Andrea, but we didn’t put any kind of restrictions or tell them they needed to give it away. This was all their idea,” said Larry Montalto, president of the charity.

But when SCCC found out, the group wanted to help again. The charity put up $250, Shelbyville Chrysler put up $500 and Mike and Judy Cresap are helping raise another $250 to pay for alterations and detailing of the van before the Kings took it over.

“This is something we’ve needed for a long time,” Michelle King said. “It’s just a huge obstacle to get one. We’ve been looking at grants and things. But the older Ava has gotten, the more concerned we’ve been.”

The van is equipped with a ramp in the back, so Ava King’s chair can be rolled right in through the tailgate and locked into position where the backseat would be.

“This is just wonderful,” Michelle King said. “Ava has always hated traveling because even short trips are so stressful for her. This will be so much better, and she will be so much more comfortable. We’re really excited.”

Andrea Cottrell said passing the van on was an easy decision.

“We wanted to show our appreciation to the community because they donated so much for George to be comfortable,” she said. “The community bought this van, and now someone else in the community will get keep using it.”