Local hero honored with customized car

GENOA, Ill. (WLS) -- A Genoa man was honored Thursday for his perseverance and philanthropy with keys to a brand new wheelchair-accessible car.

For Steve Karmgard, the keys give him access to more than just a car, but to freedom.

"I was honestly shocked that I was a finalist and this dream might actually come true," said Karmgard.

At 18, Karmgard was in a diving accident that left him wheelchair-bound, but that did not stop him from working full time and volunteering.

"He is a lesson in how not to give up," said David Hubbard, the CEO of National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

Hubbard said Karmgard spends time volunteering as a speaker for Canine Companions, the service dog organization.

"He speaks all over the area for them, they are involved in fundraising, just a variety of things to give back to the community that makes him a local hero," said Hubbard.

Kamgard's new 2016 Toyota Sienna was customized just for him with an added ramp, removable seat, and hand controls so he can hit the road all on his own.

"It means so much more mobility, my continued mobility, that allows me to work full-time and give back," said Kamgard.

Kamgard's wife, Helen Kamgard, said the gift has provided her with complete piece of mind.

"For me its total piece of mind knowing he's in a safe vehicle and I don't have to worry about him getting stuck," she said.

The National Mobility Association and Toyota plans to hold another contest early next year.
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