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A 'life changing' gift. Christmas isn't quite over for this Bradenton family

Bradenton Herald - 2/6/2020

Feb. 5--MANATEE -- It may be February, but it seems there is still a little Christmas magic in Manatee County.

For far too many years, the Klychkov, with two disabled siblings, have not been able to leave the house together as a family.

That all changed Wednesday at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office as the family received a van designed for people with disabilities, donated by an anonymous family through the Flight to the North Pole charity.

Two of the siblings suffer from a genetic disorder that has stolen their ability to walk, to talk and to take care of themselves.

A simple trip to the doctor has been challenging and required taking the siblings, now 17 and 23, to the doctor separately.

"It's been very difficult to go anywhere," said Valeriy Klychkov, the family spokesman, said on Wednesday. "It's been difficult because the wheelchairs we use are specifically made for them so it's very hard to get them into a car along with all the equipment."

Flight to the North Pole is the largest charitable organization the sheriff's office contributes to and volunteers for every December. The unique event creates a winter wonderland for disabled and sick children and ensures they have a Christmas to remember.

The van was donated by a couple who were involved in a "horrific car accident due to no fault of their own and they needed this van," said Deputy Patrick Manning, who coordinated Wednesday's big surprise. "By the grace of God they have recovered and have always been first-responder and Flight to the North Pole supporters. They thought now that they could help change someone else's life."

And change lives it will.

"This is life changing for us and I don't just say that," Klychkov said. "It's amazing. When we were younger, a lot of times our parents would take us for walks in the parks, but as they got older, their abilities kind of went away. It's been very, very difficult and hopefully now we'll be able to go out as a family."

Speaking through the cameras to the anonymous donors, Klychkov said, "I want you to understand that this will truly change our lives. This is truly a wonderful gift that will help our family tremendously."

The siblings were not able to make the trip to the sheriff's office on Wednesday because the van had not yet been given to the family, who, in tears and smiles, walked away with the keys and the title.

Sheriff Rick Wells said that starting now, this family will never have to be away from one another again.

"This family will be able to put their kids safely into the vehicle and go places as a family and that's what's most important to me is that they will never have to be broken up again," Wells said. "They require 24-hour care and these are great parents who have done everything they can to provide for their family and give them a good life, but it's constant care.

"This is a big deal for us and everyone associated with this, to know we can give them something they need that will help with their daily lives and help keep the kids together."

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