Car breakdown strands UNC patient with extremely rare condition until business jumps in to help

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A family staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill got some great support from a local business but still needs help after an untimely breakdown.

Patricia Self and her son, Eldon stay at the Ronald McDonald House when they're in town for Eldon's treatments at UNC Hospital. Eldon has Baraitser-Winter Syndrome, which is so rare he's one of about 50 people in the world who have it.

Baraitser-Winter Syndrome is a genetic disorder that has caused Eldon to use a wheelchair to get around. Because of the wheelchair, the Selfs have a specially designed van they use to transport Eldon to and from his medical visits at UNC.

"That's the only way we have to get around with him to all his medical appointments," Patricia said.

So when the van broke down, Patricia was worried. She didn't know how she could get Eldon to his appointment; she didn't even know how the pair would make it home.

That's when Cottman Transmission in Durham stepped up to help.

"We needed to get them home. They had been up here for a whole week and Eldon wanted to go home. So we wanted to help him get home," Cottman Transmission owner Jody Preston said.

Cottman Transmission had the van towed from the side of the road and even stepped up to give Patricia and Eldon a ride back to the Ronald McDonald House.

Then the mechanic shop got on the phones to try and expedite the repair. They knew the vehicle needed a new transmission, but due to delays throughout the industry, getting one could take weeks.

"Everybody is struggling to get parts, so there are some things we are waiting 2-3 weeks for," Cottman Transmission Manager Taylor Ford explained.

Luckily, they found another transmission in Raleigh. The mechanics worked around-the-clock and finished the repair in under 24 hours.

"A one-day turnaround-it made the whole team feel good that we were able to do it, but it just happened because everything fell together," Preston said.

"That was just amazing--all the extra steps (they) took because (they) didn't want us stranded," Patricia said.

Still, the repair work was expected to cost over $5,000. Cottman Transmission cut the costs down to the bare bones, leaving Patricia with a $4,000 bill.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe to help her recoup the unexpected cost.
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