By Wendy Osher
The family of a Maui girl is hoping to rally enough community support to get her a wheelchair accessible van.
Nine-year-old Ruth Grace Benavides is the daughter of protea flower farmer, Robert “Bobalou” Benavides and Maui born artist Hallelujah Duncan.
Ruth is a student at Kula Elementary School, where there are a group of kids who sign up to play with her at recess.
She was diagnosed with developmental delay at an early age, and is seen by doctors at Shriners Hospital on an annual basis.
“It has become apparent to her team that loading her and her wheelchair separately is hard on their bodies, especially as she continues to grow,” said Duncan.
Ruth’s mom, Hallelujah, signed her daughter up for a nation wide contest taking place this month, called the National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero Contest.
A total of eight vehicles will be given away as part of the contest, which is designed to educate the public that people with disabilities constitute the second largest minority group in the US.
Ruth is the only person from Hawaii currently entered in the contest, and had over 8,000 votes as of today.
“Ruth’s laughter and smile are contagious and she brightens the world where ever she is,” said Duncan. “She enjoys therapeutic horsemanship, live local music and playing in our beautiful ocean.”
The public can vote each day at the following url:
The contest runs through the end of the month.