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Oklahoma City family's quest for van ends with stranger's gift

Brenda and Mike Greene, of Oklahoma City, entered a contest to win a van for their daughter, Macie, who has Retts syndrome. But before the contest ended, another couple in the area decided to buy them van they needed.
BY MATT PATTERSON Modified: April 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm •  Published: April 27, 2013

The white Honda Odyssey sitting in Mike and Brenda Greene's driveway is the product of a long and emotional journey.

Their daughter, Macie, 9, has Retts syndrome, a neurological disease that affects girls almost exclusively. Macie can't talk or feed herself. She has scoliosis, kidney stones, digestive problems and, at times, severe anxiety.

But none of that has kept Macie from growing, and as she has grown it has become increasingly difficult for her parents to pick her up and get her into her car seat or wheelchair.

In March the family entered a contest sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. The grand prize was a fully outfitted handicapped accessible van. Typically those vans cost $50,000 to $70,000, far more than the Greenes could afford.

Macie's page on the contest website had racked up more than 25,000 votes. Their story was chronicled on local television stations and in The Oklahoman on April 3.

They thought they had a good shot at winning the contest, but it turns out they didn't have to. A couple in the Oklahoma City area read their story and decided to step forward and buy them a van.

“She told me her name and she said she read the article in the paper today, and she said she and her husband wanted to buy us a van,” Brenda Greene said. “She said, ‘We don't want you to have to wait for the contest.'”

Brenda Greene couldn't believe what she was hearing.

“I couldn't say anything to her, I was so full of emotion,” she said. “I finally was able to ask her if she was serious. She was asking me what color we wanted, and I was just so stunned it was hard to answer her.”

The couple asked not to be identified publicly, but the two families met for the first time Monday in Guthrie. Faces were put to names and voices. There were hugs and a few tears.

“They're a tremendous couple,” Mike Greene said. “I got the impression they were as excited about it as we were.”

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