Lapel mother hopes to win wheelchair bike for special needs daughter from Haiti

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LAPEL, Ind. (WTHR) — Caring for a child with special needs has its share of daily challenges.

"It's not always an easy road," said Shara Avilma, 38, who has a 14-year-old foster daughter, Moya, with cerebral palsy.

Shara wouldn't have it any other way, though.

"Life with Moya, it's a labor love," Shara said.

It's been that way for almost nine years, ever since Shara first held a then-little Moya in her arms at an orphanage in Haiti.

"I remember the social worker handed her to me and said, 'Here's your daughter, mommy,'" Shara recalled.

Shara made mission trips to Haiti in high school and college and later returned there to work in the same orphanage where she had volunteered years before.

That's where she became Moya's primary caregiver, after the little girl's birth mother left her at a hospital following the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing more than 200,000.

At the time, Moya was so malnourished, the caregivers at the orphanage thought she was 9 months old, but Moya was actually around 5 years old.

"She had so much joy. She would just laugh and giggle all the time. I just fell in love with her," said Shara.

Years later, Shara is still in the process of adopting her foster daughter, but Moya now has two little brothers. Phillip and Hugo love Moya.

"I always said if she could walk, she be right there wrestling with her brothers," Shara said.

Just around the block from their Lapel home, there's a park where Shara brings the kids to play. She pushes Moya in her wheelchair while the boys ride bikes, but Shara longs for her only daughter to feel like she's on a bike, too.

"I can't just go to Walmart and buy a bike for her, you know? It has to be something that's specially made," Shara said.

That's why she's entered a contest to try and win Moya a tandem wheelchair bicycle.

The nonprofit that makes it gives away two bikes every year in a raffle. To enter the raffle, Moya needs at least 50 votes on a page Shara created, telling her story.

Shara can also raise money to buy a bike at a reduced price. Even then, it costs $4,000.

"It would probably take years for me to save up, little by little," Shara explained.

So this mom's hoping and praying when that raffle happens, her daughter's name gets picked so her little family can enjoy one of life's little pleasures, a bike ride together.

"I would love for us to be able to go out as a family and do something simple that most people don't think about," said Shara.

"I just want my kids, all of my kids to be able to share the same experience, you know?" she said.

Click here to vote for Moya so she can be entered into the raffle. There's also donation instructions on the page.

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