The Georgetown family of a disabled child is asking for their community's support to win a custom wheelchair accessible van through the 2014 National Mobility Awareness Month Campaign's Local Heroes Contest.

The Georgetown family of a disabled child is asking for their community’s support to win a custom wheelchair accessible van through the 2014 National Mobility Awareness Month Campaign’s Local Heroes Contest.

Jarod Coursey, a 13-year-old Georgetown native, was diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome when he was 10 weeks old. According to his mother, Sherry Perry, Coursey went into respiratory arrest while at a local daycare.

“I managed to get there and ride with him in the ambulance,” Perry said. “I wasn’t told much.”

After being transported to Beebe Healthcare, Coursey was airlifted to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where it was determined he had SBS.

“He had multiple rib fractures, bleeding in both retinas and severe brain trauma,” Perry said. “He was on a ventilator to breathe and in a medically-induced coma. I was told that he would most likely die.”

Perry said some daycare employees faced charges in connection to Coursey’s condition, but they were found not guilty.

For his initial injuries, Coursey spent three months in the hospital. Now, he is severely disabled. He suffers from quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy, he is non-ambulatory, legally blind, non-verbal and he has seizures.

In January, Coursey underwent surgery to have a rod inserted into his spine, from his shoulders to his pelvis. Perry said the surgery was necessary to fix the curvature of his back caused by 13 years of immobility.

Coursey weighs roughly 60 pounds and is not very flexible due to the rod that is now straightening his spine. It’s become extremely difficult, Perry says, to transport Coursey in the family’s SUV. It’s also uncomfortable for Coursey, she added.

“It’s very hard to manipulate him and get him up into the SUV and into his car seat,” she said. “When he was younger and smaller, he went absolutely everywhere with us because we could just put him in the car and go.”

Coursey has regular appointments at A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington. The family currently relies heavily on non-emergency medical transportation. However, Perry said it’s getting difficult to utilize the service due to the volume and length of Coursey’s appointments.

In addition to reliable transportation to doctor’s appointments, Perry said she simply wants to be able take Coursey to family events and to places like the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania, because he loves trains.

Perry said she and her husband Chris Perry cannot afford to purchase a van. Sherry Perry works full time in the estimating department for a local electrical contractor and Chris Perry is a full-time mechanic. The couple’s hard-earned money goes toward household expenses, Coursey’s medical bills and caring for their other children. Coursey’s biological father is deceased.

Sherry Perry said she started doing online research in hopes of finding some sort of grant that would help her buy a van. That’s when she found the Local Heroes Contest.


Click here to vote for Jarod!


In its third year, the contest is sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. According to the association’s website, May is National Mobility Awareness Month and is an annual celebration that encourages seniors, veterans, caregivers and people with disabilities to enjoy active, mobile lifestyles. In this year’s contest, the NMEDA will give away four vans.

If Coursey’s family is going to win one of those vans, they need votes and they need them now. Voting runs through May 9 and the winners will be announced later in the month.

Taylor Burden, Coursey’s 23-year-old sister, said she would love to see her brother enjoy the things that all 13-year-old boys should be enjoying.

“Right now he’s really limited in where he can go and what he can do,” Burden said. “It would be nice to see him out and about. It would make me happy.”

Ginny Hendricks, who has been one of Coursey’s daytime nurses for the past year, said if anyone deserves to win this contest, it’s Coursey and his family.

“They’re a great family, they’ve been through a lot and they all work very hard,” Hendricks said.