, Salem, MA

May 20, 2013

Salem teen makes semifinals in contest to win wheelchair van

The Salem News

---- — SALEM — Dominick Pacheco has risen to the top 5 percent of more 1,000 entrants in an online contest to win a wheelchair-accessible van.

Dominick, 14, received more than 20,000 votes through March, April and May and is considered a semifinalist in a contest organized by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Winners will be chosen today and announced by May 31.

Dominick suffered a brain injury at birth that left him severely disabled — he cannot speak, and he cannot sit or stand on his own.

“He can’t do much, but what he can do, he enjoys,” Dominick’s mother, Laura, told The Salem News in an April interview.

Word of the contest spread throughout the community — Mayor Kim Driscoll even tweeted her support — and Dominick received 20,778 votes in the contest.

According to the mobility equipment association, the online contest drew 1,225 entrants, the top 5 percent of which are being reviewed by “an independent panel of judges.” Three winners will be chosen to receive a wheelchair van tailored to their individual needs.

— Bethany Bray