Tampa college student banking on generosity of others to get new, handicap accessible van

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jul 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-17 17:20:00-04

Singing is not just a passion for Mikaela Arnold, it's also therapy.

The 23-year-old is hoping to graduate from the University of Tampa with a degree in digital media in the next couple of years.

"I'm very smart, I'm very diligent...and I just love to learn," said Mikaela.

But with these talents, her music teacher, Charles Dugen, says there is one thing slowing her progress.

"She needs a little help," said Dugen, "so that she can get a new van.  Because she is having some transportation issues... to be more independent. And independence leads to success."

With Dugen's help, Mikaela has organized a benefit concert this Sunday at New World Brewery in Ybor City. Mikaela has been trying for a couple years now to raise the money on her own, but just hasn't been able to raise all of it.  Her mom has a van for her now, but it's 20 years old and in need of costly repairs, including the air conditioning. 

"We would like a minivan that's only like a year old max, so that we can get it retrofitted for a handicapped person," Mikaela said.

If Mikaela can raise enough money to buy a van that's not more than a year old, she can get it retrofitted through a program at the University of South Florida for free.

Mikaela will be one of the performers at the big show.  That in itself, is truly incredible, considering Mikaela was told at the age of four that she probably would never be able to carry on an intelligent conversation.

Mikaela, now a college student, is living proof she can do so much more than that now.

Mikaela's Gala will be Sunday, July 23 from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at New World Brewery 1313 E 8th Ave, Tampa.

You can also contribute to her GoFundMe page here.