SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sunday was a special day for a Sioux Falls man who received a generous gift at no cost to him or his family.
It was all smiles for Malik Paulson when he received a wheelchair accessible van. The former Washington High School student was paralyzed after a diving accident two years ago.
“I haven’t had a van at all since I’ve been home,” Paulson said. “I’ve been stuck in the house a lot because of no transportation and when I could go somewhere, it was always too expensive.”
Now, thanks to some generous donors, Malik has his own van to get around.
“I stopped and I was pretty speechless, because I didn’t expect it to be here,” Paulson said. “I was more expecting tomorrow, actually. Just the fact that it was already here, already paid for and everything, it’s just a blessing to me.”
Patrick Wilson, owner of the Sioux Falls store Nrdvana, started raising money for the van back in June during a Juneteenth event.
“We decided to help Malik out by raising money for him and help get him a wheelchair accessible vehicle,” Wilson said. “At one point during the event, we did not raise enough money in order to acquire a van for Malik, so Nrdvana set out on its own to collect the rest of the money.”
Wilson said money came in from donations from “community partners,” and in-store events, including a virtual auction, raffles and giveaways. It is all a part of a new effort started by the store called “Nrdvana Cares.”
“Malik was the first project we’ve done with it at this time, but I thought it was a success,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t a lot that we raised, but it was enough to change someone’s life and that’s what it’s all about.”
Malik’s family has had to rely on a company for transportation, and they had been looking to buy a van for a while. but now, they are able to get around anytime without that additional cost.
“Knowing that he’s been working hard and his family has been working hard to achieve a goal and I was able to help him achieve that, and the look on his face when he rounded the corner, like, ‘Oh, that is mine’,” Wilson said.
“I’m just really happy and I’m honestly at like a loss of words for it. I was not expecting it all,” Paulson said.