Life-changing wheelchair and ramp donation for Ecuadorian girl
By Capt. Ashley Norris, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Public Affairs
/ Published April 22, 2008
FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- Friday afternoon members of Forward Operating Location Manta conducted their final inspection of a wheelchair ramp they designed and funded for 11 year-old Kelly Yuleisy Arcentales. The completion of the wheelchair ramp from Kelly's home to the city sidewalk finalized a three month project to provide Kelly with full access to her local community.
It began on Jan. 26 when members of the FOL donated an electric wheelchair to Kelly to improve her quality of life and mobility. However, when it was delivered her need for a proper concrete ramp from her front door to the sidewalk was evident. Members of the 964th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma that are deployed to FOL Manta, raised money with a local church, Henderson Hills Baptist Church, and used that money to pay for construction of the ramp.
Kelly suffered brain damage when she was three years old after a fall and a high fever. She had previously dragged herself around her house on her forearms and had to be carried into town. Now, Kelly can easily go into town with her family by using her new wheelchair and ramp. Kelly likes her wheelchair, she feels comfortable and is happy, said her mother, Elvira Monserrate Anchundia Arcentales through a translator. She went on to say that now she can take Kelly into town to get a stylish haircut, whereas previously she was unable to do so.
After hearing of Kelly's need for a ramp to help her get into town Major Jordan Lee, E-3 Sentry aircraft commander and Lieutenant Colonel Charles Moore, 964th EAACS commander, decided that there was nothing else they would rather put their hearts and money into than helping her. "It was wonderful to see her smile knowing that she now has mobility and access to the outside world," said Major Lee.
Major Lee, "took it upon himself to raise the money," said Colonel Moore. He led the effort to raise money and collect donated items from Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, OK that both Major Lee and Colonel Moore attend. The church had a long-standing relationship with Guayaquil, Ecuador so when word got out that members from the local base were deploying to Ecuador; church members were pleased to support a different location in Ecuador. "They support our military, they already supported Ecuador," so the two just fell in-line, said Colonel Moore.
Major Lee teaches a children's bible study and before deploying he asked them to collect things that they thought the Ecuadorian children might need or want. As the children started collecting things like crayons, school supplies and toys, the parents in the church started putting together a collection also. They collected two large boxes of donated items and $2,365 cash to use for a worthy cause.
The 964th EAACS is finishing up their four-month tour at FOL Manta and they have made a positive impact on the local Manta community. They have donated approximately: 325 man-hours, 2,500 articles of clothing, personal hygiene items, school supplies, games and toys, $1,500 in power tools and over $2,600 in cash to the FOL Community Relations fund which supports local orphanages, hospitals and schools.
FOL Manta is strategically located in Manta, Ecuador in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South's efforts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to stop transnational narcotics movement. As a result of missions launched from the FOL Manta, already in 2008, 59 metric tons of cocaine valued at over $1.17 billion have been seized.