Raleigh teen with spina bifida fundraises for wheelchair-accessible car

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help
RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- ABC11 Together is highlighting a Raleigh 19-year-old in need.

GoFundMe reached out to ABC11 after it donated $1,000 to the teen battling spina bifida who is fundraising for a wheelchair-accessible van he can drive to gain independence.

You can donate to the GoFundMe Page here.

Getting behind the wheel of a car is opening a new chapter of independence for Joshua Pederson - in more ways than one.

The wheelchair-enabled teen uses a hand bar, attached to the pedals, to drive.

It's all a new ray of hope after Joshua lost the use of his legs following a surgery almost four years ago.

Joshua Pederson

"I remember quite a few times I'd wake up and just start crying because, because I'd sometimes we try to get out of bed and obviously I needed to get in the wheelchair, not stand up," Pedersen said.

He battled depression. Born in the Republic of Georgia, Pedersen was adopted by American parents. The teen is on his own, living off disability, taken in by a Raleigh family, and he's turned that depression around, "realizing that everybody has a purpose."

"He's a very good person who has the ability to inspire other people because he's overcome so many challenges and hardships in his own life," said Kat De la Cruz, whose family has taken in Pedersen.

Pederson launched his own inspirational blog and is hoping to turn that into a career. Now he's fundraising for a wheelchair-accessible car to start college at Wake Tech in the fall, find a part-time job, drive to doctors' appointments, and live the life of any 19-year-old.

"I'd go to the mall. I'd go to the movies. I'd probably pick up you know, ask a girl out on a date," he said.

For now Pedersen, practices using the De La Cruz's family car, hoping one day he'll have his own set of wheels, so he won't be defined by his wheelchair.

"It would mean the world because I ... this is my life," he said.
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