THE COLONY — What started as a grass-roots fundraiser — selling $2 bracelets at a basketball game — turned into a full school assembly to watch the Bravo family get a wheelchair-accessible van.
"Wow, that's something unbelievable," said Jose Bravo laughing. "I mean, we really really surprised. Big surprise for the whole family."
Jose's son, Brian Bravo, has been paralyzed since 2005, but it was only this year that his classmates at The Colony High School learned his tragic story.
Jose was home in Texas awaiting his family's return from Mexico when a car accident took the lives of his wife, brother-in-law and daughter, and put Brian in a wheelchair.
After hearing the story, head basketball coach Cleve Ryan named Brian an "assistant coach" and made it a goal to get the Bravo family a van before graduation.
"To see the day... to walk out and see the whole student body out here in front of the school... that was never in the playbook," Ryan said.
In a story we did in February, we showed just how badly the Bravos needed a wheelchair-accessible van. The Bravos have an old, small four-door sedan which they used to drive Brian to his medical appointments and other things. It took Jose two-and-a half minutes to park the car and get Brian into his wheelchair.
The people at BraunAbility saw the story, saw Jose's daily struggle, and decided to do something about it. BraunAbility is a company founded by Ralph Braun, who was also confined to a wheelchair.
"Mr. Bravo, with their situation — and he's not getting any younger — this van will allow him not to have to pick Brian up and move him in and out of the van," said Greg Kiser, the regional general manager for BraunAbility.
BraunAbility and Ally Financial donated the van, but it didn't end there. The Colony community raised $25,000, which will go into a trust fund.
The five high schools in the Lewisville ISD have all pledged to raise another $2,000 each. And Huffines Chevrolet in Lewisville put a lifetime warranty on the van and will donate free oil changes for six years.
"This is absolutely what this community is all about," said The Colony Mayor Joe McCourry. "Our community is very close-knit, we work with each other, we support each other and this activity just really goes to show how much we do care about each other here."
The lives of Jose Bravo and his family changed forever on that road in Mexico nearly nine years ago with that tragic car accident. On Friday, outside The Colony High School, it changed again.
"I never expect any of this, seriously," said Jose Bravo. "It was just a few months ago they started all this. Thanks to Coach Ryan and the whole community and everybody for getting involved, thank you so much."