Kingsport Times News Sunday, August 30, 2015

Community Local News

Central Heights student in national contest for wheelchair lift van

March 22nd, 2014 8:23 pm by Rick Wagner

Central Heights student in national contest for wheelchair lift van

June Roller and Amanda McCoy talk with Kelsey Roller at Central Heights Elementary School. Photo by David Grace.

BLOUNTVILLE — As 10-year-old Central Heights Elementary student Kelsey Roller grows, so do her mobility issues.

Kelsey is among at least eight Northeast Tennessee residents competing on a national website for one of four wheelchair accessible vans that will be given away in June.

The website,, began showcasing "Local Hero" entries earlier this month. The public can read stories of those living with mobility issues and vote for candidates to win one of the wheelchair accessible vans.

May is National Mobility Awareness Month.

Kelsey's parents, Travis and Kim Roller, wrote on the website that Kelsey was a normal infant but contracted a virus when she was 2 years old and has become confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk, talk or feed herself.

They and her grandmother, Central Heights kindergarten aide June Roller, said doctors have been unable to diagnose the cause of Kelsey's regression, but June Roller said a neurologist at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center told the family Kelsey would continue to progress, just not as quickly as she regressed.

According to the site, searchable by state, city and name, nobody from far Southwest Virginia is in the contest as of Friday afternoon.

"As Kelsey is getting old and taller it is getting more difficult in getting her in and out of the vehicle for therapy and other appointments," the couple wrote. "This (wheelchair accessible van) would provide a better opportunity as Kelsey continues to grow, as more appointments may be out of state. This would provide more safety as we travel."

"We have had Kelsey to Knoxville, Vanderbilt, Johnson City and Cincinnati. Kelsey has had numerous tests and the doctors do not know a diagnosis for Kelsey at this time," the couple wrote. "Kelsey loves going places and seeing everybody."

The old van the family uses has a ramp rather than a lift.

"When they try to get Kelsey out, they have to hang on tight," June Roller said.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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