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'It's hard on my body' | Push to get accessible van for 72-year-old grandma caring for disabled granddaughter

Moriyah McGuire, 9, was disabled in a car crash that killed her mom a year ago this week.

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — It's a 30-minute process to get Moriyah McGuire in and out of the car. Her grandmother Joycelyn does it by herself every time they go to the doctor's office and when she drops the 9-year-old off at school.

Their routine is new for both of them after Moriyah was profoundly disabled in a car crash that killed her mom a year ago this week.

It's a routine, they hope, they won't do by themselves for long – now that her teachers are stepping in to help. Moriyah just started at New Hope Elementary before Thanksgiving break but in those short weeks, she made a big impression and is inspiring a big movement.

Joycelyn and Moriyah McGuire are tight. The 72-year-old grandmother and granddaughter even dress alike when they go out.

"We have such a fantastic relationship. This is my ride-or-die. Where I go, she goes," Joycelyn said.

She has always been her granddaughter's biggest fan.

She sat in the front row when Moriyah played Tinkerbell in the 3rd grade and she tucked her in every night.

"We learned how to do sign language together, I taught her to say [sign] 'I love you.' We would do this every night before we go to bed," she said.

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The signs are smaller now but Joycelyn said they're still there.

"If you lean over to give you a little kiss, she'll kiss you back," she said. 

Joycelyn is Moriyah's caregiver now after the devastating accident a year ago this month that killed her mom and left her disabled.

"It is very, very, very heavy. It is heavy on my heart, heavy on my mind, heavy on my body," she said. 

Joycelyn stayed with Moriyah in the hospital for three months.

The little girl suffered a traumatic brain injury and Joycelyn takes her to dozens of doctor's appointments each week and to school every day.

"We realized very quickly that Ms. McGuire was having to physically load Moriyah in and out of her vehicle and it took nearly 30 minutes to get her out of the vehicle," teacher Jodi Combs said.

"You're already dealing with the change in life circumstance and the grief from the accident. Getting in and out of the car just seems like another unfair burden," teacher Sydney Swords added.

Special Ed teachers in the Henry County School District wanted to support Joycelyn like she's supported Moriyah through her injury. They want to help buy her a handicap-accessible van.

"We live in the wealthiest nation in the world, and there's no funds for this, there's no help for this. This is necessary. This is life. They need this. And the fact that they can't get this and get the funds for this, it's just heartbreaking," Combs said.

It was never a question to Joycelyn that she would take care of Moriyah but she said the help from her teachers is an answered prayer.

"They took me in like a family," she said. "And when I heard about the fundraiser, I was like, 'Me? You don't know me,' but they knew Moriyah. And I just cried."

Joycelyn has been injured a few times trying to help Moriyah get out of the car. However, she said nothing will stop her from caring for her girl.

"Through it all, through it all, we are trying to make it," Joycelyn said. 

The teachers have already raised more than $3,000 to help Joycelyn get the van but they still have a long way to go. They need to raise at least $15,000 to get a safe and accessible vehicle.

If you'd like to help, click here to donate. 

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