Community gives Meriden teen with brittle bone disease a handica - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Community gives Meriden teen with brittle bone disease a handicap-accessible van

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

A teenager defying the odds every day finally has a reliable way to get around.

The community came together for 13-year-old Lexi Charbonneau of Meriden after Eyewitness News first aired her story back in January.

This week, a dream for a handicap-accessible van became a reality.

"I haven't been able to sleep,” Lexi said.

"It's a lot of money to raise,” said Debra Zinzalet, Lexi’s mother. “A lot of people jumped in and got it done, and here's our beautiful van!"

Eyewitness News was there when Zinzalet and Lexi first received a look at an MV-1 van over the winter.

Lexi became an expert at motoring her little wheelchair up its ramp.

The vehicle was built to meet all accessibility issues and even included a few personalized touches.

Before the van, Zinzalet said she was forced to use a minivan with a car seat and a folding ramp.

"It's going to take a lot off me,” she said. “I won't have to lift her up anymore, she can just drive in, I can lock her down and go!"

In fact, now Lexi can ride right up front with plenty of room for her loyal service dog Giodo in the back.

“He'll have a lot more room to relax,” Lexi said.

Lexi said she lives every day defying the odds. Thirteen years ago, doctors said they did not think she’d make it through her first day on earth.

She has brittle bone disease and has suffered 73 fractures in her lifetime.

To her family, it’s her unbreakable spirit that has people surrounding her with help.

"I'm just so happy for Lexi, because she deserves this,” said Natalie Ramadonovic, MV-1 Connecticut. “Deb deserves this [along with] her whole family."

Renee Denino from I Heart Radio also got involved in the cause.

After raising nearly $50,000, the keys were finally handed over from the Harte Motor Group to Zinzalet.

She may not be driving yet, but wherever Lexi goes, the journey won’t be alone.

"It's just nice to know how many people I have around,” she said.

"It means a lot,” Zinzalet said. “It really does, and it means more with all the people that we have, that helped us.”

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