VERSAILLES, Ky. (WTVQ) – As we get closer to New Year’s Eve, you may already be thinking about your plans.
A Lexington charity will be hosting a celebration at the Kentucky Castle in Versailles. Money raised at the event will go to benefit a teenager, needing safer transportation.
“He’s just always smiling, and when he goes into a room, people are always like ‘aw, look at that smile,’ like he lights up,” said CLS worker Rene Perez.
The smile that Perez is talking about belongs to 18-year-old Matthew Laytart.
Just like other teens, Matthew likes playing baseball, going to the movies, and loves animals. But, Matthew was born with cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound.
His caregivers have to move him from his wheelchair to a regular car seat in order to take him anywhere. Matthew’s speech therapist, Michelle Raney, says that isn’t safe.
“It’s really hard for him to stabilize,” said Raney. “He doesn’t have the core strength to do that, so a lot of times he’s leaning over on the door. It’s not a safe situation. He’s needed a wheelchair accessible van for a long time.”
Raney is also the Co-Founder of the Joy Project, a Lexington-based charity that helps spread continuous joy in the community.
Now, the Joy Project is throwing a New Year’s Eve party at the Kentucky Castle.
“It will be fun, but ultimately our whole goal and the heart and soul of the party and why we’re putting our time and energy into is to try to fundraise this van for Matthew,” said Raney.
Rene Perez is Matthew’s CLS worker. He spends over 40 hours per week taking Matthew to do different activities, but Perez is also a full-time student at EKU. He is working toward a degree in occupational therapy.
“That means I won’t be with Matthew forever,” said Perez. “My concern is that whenever someone else comes in that they’re able to continue to do these things with him, because I think it’s vital to his quality of life.”
That’s why both Perez and Raney hope the community will come together to help make buying the van possible.
“Just the thought of him hopefully getting a van, whether it’s this year or in a few months, is really awesome and I know can change his life forever,” said Raney.
For more about Matthew and his story, click here.