Tonawanda boy receives mobility van for Christmas

Good News With Gabby

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — While most kids ask for the latest toy for Christmas, three-year-old, James Parisi dreamed of something bigger. He was born with a rare type of MD, where he is unable to walk on his own.

“When you have a child that has some above and beyond needs, it takes a village and we’re so thankful for the wonderful village that we have of family friends and community support,” said his mother, Molly Parisi. 

This Christmas, he and his family have been gifted a brand-new mobility van from the Ken-Ton community. Joe Shiah and Paul Billoni leading the effort to raise $14,000. 

“You know my heart just melted and when they started telling me how much it was going to cost, I said, I’ve got a van,” said Billoni. “We got it registered, repaired,  and put some new wheels on it so it will last a long time,” said Shiah.

Before receiving the van, the family had to take two separate vehicles everywhere. Now they can drive together, something most people take for granted. And create new memories.

“We’ve gone out together to look at Christmas lights and James and the kids absolutely love that,” said his father, Anthony Parisi.  “Without this van, we wouldn’t have been able to do that. So that’s just really special.” 

And even in the middle of a pandemic , when finances are tight,  several organizations and donors in the Ken-Ton community gave what they could, to make this family’s holiday a little brighter.
“I think people genuinely are just good at heart and this has proven no matter what,  people are there for each other, people take care of each other,” said Anthony Parisi.  “It’s probably the best Christmas present we could ask for.”

The community raised an additional $2,000 for the Parisi family to continue making their home, wheelchair accessible for James. 

Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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