Lakeville parents Dan and Melynda Hernandez are slowly losing hope as they desperately try to track down an affordable, handicapped-accessible van for their six-year-old daughter.

Melynda knew the day would come when Bella would grow out of her car seat, but she wasn’t ready to shop for a van that could fit a wheelchair.

Bella Hernandez was born handicapped, but it never slowed down her bubbly personality from blooming.

“She’s spunky, sassy, and is the best self-advocate,” Melynda said. "She makes a lot of friends and people seem to flock to her, but it has certainly been tough.”

Hernandez has watched her daughter go through test after test to find a diagnosis, but no luck.

“(Bella) presents as a child with cerebral palsy, but cognitively, there is nothing wrong,” she said. “She’s had a couple MRIs, exhaustive testing, genome testing, you name it.”

For the first six years of her life, Bella was small enough to fit in a five-point car seat and be transferred from the van to her wheelchair, but those days are numbered as this “little peanut” continues to grow.

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“Right now, we have a van and it’s not running well,” Hernandez said.

It certainly isn’t handicapped accessible, either. According to Hernandez, their 2012 minivan needs extensive work and isn’t eligible to be converted into a handicapped-accessible van because it’s more than three years old.

“We were told by the dealership that the banks won’t finance a converted van that is over three years old,” she said.

Vans that fit those criteria go for $40-$50,000.

Hernandez feels hopeless, and time is running out as her daughter continues to grow and her minivan continues to age.

“I’m very lucky to have a husband that works hard for the family, but it’s not enough,” she said. “I’m on disability and we are just trying to make ends meet.”

Hernandez and her husband never wanted to ask for help, but reality has set in that their daughter won’t be able to be carried to and from her wheelchair for the rest of her life.

The Hernandez family is looking for help to give Bella the best life possible.

Let’s see if we can make some magic happen for Bella.

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