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updated: 8/1/2014 11:20 AM

Garage sale to raise funds for Streamwood girl's wheelchair-accesible van

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  • Riley Woznicki and her twin, Reagan, were born prematurely at 25 weeks. Riley, right, weighed 1.7 pounds.

      Riley Woznicki and her twin, Reagan, were born prematurely at 25 weeks. Riley, right, weighed 1.7 pounds.
    Courtesy of Jennifer Woznicki

  • Riley, who has cerebral palsy, works on a strength exercise at Easter Seals in Elgin.

      Riley, who has cerebral palsy, works on a strength exercise at Easter Seals in Elgin.
    Courtesy of Jennifer Woznicki

  • "She is the sweetest little girl," family friend Jennifer Thing said.

      "She is the sweetest little girl," family friend Jennifer Thing said.
    Courtesy of Jennifer Woznicki

  • Riley's family hopes to raise $50,000 for a wheelchair-accessible van.

      Riley's family hopes to raise $50,000 for a wheelchair-accessible van.
    Courtesy of Jennifer Woznicki

 
 

Riley Woznicki likes swing sets, bike rides and summer camp.

"She is the sweetest little girl," family friend Jennifer Thing said. "She's already been a catalyst for change in our town."

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The 6-year-old Streamwood girl, born premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 3, patiently answers questions about her wheelchair from curious kids. Her family has spurred the park district to install accessible swings with safety harnesses. And in her own way, Riley teaches acceptance, her mom says.

Twice, Riley's family has tried to win a wheelchair-accessible van in a national competition. Riley lost in the semifinals this year.

"We were more bummed out than she was," mom Jennifer Woznicki said.

To help offset that disappointment, friends are hosting a garage sale at 825 Houlton Court in Schaumburg from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 8, 9 and 10. Donations of clothing, furniture and other items can be dropped off there until the sale.

The family also has started a fundraiser on Gofundme.com that's collected about $2,800 -- well short of the $50,000 cost for a new van, which isn't covered by the Woznickis' insurance.

Until then, her parents hoist Riley, who weighs about 40 pounds, into their Dodge Caravan, which has almost 100,000 miles on it.

"For now it's OK, and we deal with it because we have to, but when she gets bigger and heavier, it's just going to be harder," Jennifer Woznicki said.

Thing hopes the neighborhood rallies around a family handed a number of medical setbacks since Riley and her twin, Reagan, were born at just more than 25 weeks. Riley weighed a mere 1.7 pounds. Her diaper was the size of a cellphone, Thing said, and she "was still swimming in it."

"They've never said Riley can't do something," Thing said of the girl's parents. "They're always doing anything they can."

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