Dealer Doings: Video Goes Viral, Touches the Heart of a Distant Dealer
And a Toyota dealer in New York can say, “You know what? Let’s give to that family in Georgia who could use a little help.”
The chain of events goes like this: 12-year old McKenzie Carey—who suffers from Mitochondrial disease and can’t walk or talk—performs a heart-warming dance with her father, Mike, at a pageant in Georgia. The Careys post the video on YouTube. Kahle Harris sees the video and loves it. He tells his father, Empire Toyota Dealer Principal Geoffery Harris, about it. Geoffery hears the family needs special transport for McKenzie and decides to donate a Mobility Sienna, but not before equipping the van with a wheelchair lift. He instructs is other son Justin, the dealership’s general manager, to reach out to the family.
“We watched the original video and we were all in tears. It’s amazing how they push through to make sure McKenzie has a normal life,” says Stephen Martin, Empire Toyota’s business manager who served as the liaison between the dealership and the Careys. “The Harris family has always done everything in their power to give back to the people that support us, even if they’re not from around here.”
Initially, the idea was to offer the Carey’s a $10,000 donation. But as Martin interacted with the family, it became clear the van would be more useful. A lift was added to spare Mike and Tammy the burden of lifting McKenzie and her wheelchair every time they drove somewhere.
“We wanted to make sure this van was functional for them,” Martin says. “So it took some back and forth to figure out what lift would work best for her.”
"I'm almost speechless,” said Mike Carey to WSB-TV in Atlanta. “I mean it's crazy how things have transpired. I mean just the van and all the other things that have been going on and all the people that have been inspired by that one video."
McKenzie’s story got lots of attention, especially after the donation. The entire Carey family—McKenzie, Mike, mother Tammy and brother Timothy—appeared on “CNN Headline News” in August, shortly after the dealership delivered the van.
“It’s been incredible,” Tammy said when the interviewer asked about the Mobility Sienna. “Yesterday we went to the school’s open house and just to be able to get her in and out by myself was amazing.”
If you’d like to see McKenzie’s video, go to www.McKenziesHope.com.