Chad Crews is a typical college sophomore. He takes classes at Chattahoochee Technical College, enjoys playing soccer and is an assistant basketball coach. But Crews has a dream that’s not so typical: He wants to drive his own car.
Crews has Arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder that causes a shortening of the joints and muscle weakness. Because of his condition, he needs special adaptions to allow him to drive a car; and these adaptions don’t come cheap.
Crews’s mother Michelle Davis said the vehicle adaptions necessary to allow him to drive cost between $70,000 and $100,000. This doesn’t include the expenses associated with converting a minivan for the adaption, another $25,000.
“There’s so much expense that people take for granted,” Davis said, “These are things Chad has had to struggle for.”
Davis is a stay-at-home mom and her husband Reggie is a Smyrna police officer. She said her family simply can’t afford the more than $100,000 needed to adapt a minivan. Enter Dream Makers Youth Foundation, a Smyrna-based nonprofit that provides therapeutic services and support to special needs children throughout metro Atlanta. Crews and his family has been involved with DMYF since he joined the organization’s soccer team in middle school.
“I’ve known Chad for eight years, maybe nine,” said Nikki Wilson, founder and president of DMYF. “I was his wheelchair soccer coach. He’s just a great kid. Despite his condition he tries his best. He’s an athlete.”
In addition to playing soccer, Crews is also an assistant wheelchair basketball coach at the annual DMYF Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball Jam. The tournament puts able-bodied celebrities on teams with wheelchair athletes for a charity basketball game.
Wilson said most of the celebrity athletes are “terrible on the court,” but Crews is a natural coach.
“We just monitor the game and tell them where they’re doing good and where they need to pick it up a little bit,” Crews said.
This year’s game takes place Saturday, April 14 at Whitefield Academy. Celebrity atheletes include world championship kickboxer Mark Selbee, Kidd Chris and Thomas from Project 9-6-1 and Eshe from Arrested Development. Admission is $7 and benefits children and young adults with special needs like Crews.
The basketball game isn’t the only fundraiser DMYF holds each year. The nonprofit’s inaugural Chase the Dream 5K is scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at Homer Leggett Memorial Park on the Silver Comet Trail. Wilson said the race will benefit a specific child each year and the race next month will benefit Crews.
Davis said Vocational Rehab agreed to pay to convert a minivan and outfit it with adaptions for Crews if his family can provide the vehicle. Proceeds from next month’s Chase the Dream 5K will be used to purchase the minivan. Crews said he’s looking forward to driving on his own so he can relieve his mom of some of her responsibilities.
“Going to college is just a lot of driving back and forth,” he said. “I don’t stay all day. I actually go to two different campuses (…) It’s a lot of driving for my mom. She has to take me and my little brother, who’s in elementary school. I’d like to just go so she doesn’t have to worry about anything.”
To make a donation for Crews, contact DMYF at 678-398-6693.