Local nonprofit in need of a ‘holiday miracle’

NORTHGLENN, Colo. -- A local nonprofit said it is in need of a holiday miracle.

HILLS Inc. organizes day trips and vacations for adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. It goes to the Denver Zoo, Rockies games, and even flies to Florida, Hawaii and Costa Rica.

“There is so much more you can learn from travel that you can’t learn from a book or television,” executive director Dawn Parker said.

One member of their group is stuck sitting out -- and it’s having an effect on everybody.

“I think when Lucy is down, we all feel down,” Parker said.

According to Parker, Lucy has been having a rough time all year. On Friday, she fell very ill during a trip back to Northglenn from Denver International Airport.

“It kind of sounds like a belabored lawn mower,” Parker said.

Lucy is the group’s para-transit bus.

“She’s part of the family,” Parker said. “She is the face of HILLS.”

Lucy is 10 years old and has 131,000 miles. She is special because she is the only transportation HILLS has for wheelchairs.

“This lift is what’s so critically important because so many of our individuals do utilize a wheelchair and we want to make sure everyone has the accessibility to be able to join us,” she said. "Without this transportation so many of our participants wouldn’t be able to be involved."

Parker believes Lucy needs a new catalytic converter. She told the FOX31 Problem Solvers that mechanics have quoted the repair at $1,800 to $2,000.

“We were all crossing our fingers that we were going to get a little more time to get us into the new fiscal year,” Parker said. “As a nonprofit we have to be very conscientious of our budget.”

Without extra donations, HILLS will have to dip into scholarship money to fix Lucy.

Otherwise, it will have no way to transport participants for a trip to see the zoo lights on Saturday or for their big annual New Year’s Eve celebration.

Either way, it will have to fix Lucy because losing her is not an option.

“Lucy is our means to be able to open the world up to individuals,” Parker said. “She takes good care of us so we want to take good care of her.”

To help HILLS cover the cost of repairs, donate to HILLS Inc. or donate for Colorado Gives Day, which happens on Dec. 6.