PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Isabel Llavet was speechless as she watched a specialized van approach her Providence home.
For Llavet, the van isn’t just a mode of transportation. It’s also a symbol of hope that will greatly improve her son’s life.
Llavet and her son Dereck Silva moved to Rhode Island from Puerto Rico in 2017. The 8th grader lives with two forms of muscular dystrophy and was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Finding the help her son needed was difficult in Puerto Rico, which is why Llavet said she decided to make the move.
For the past several years, Llavet and her son have relied on public transportation to get to his doctor’s appointments.
That is, until now.
Llavet shared Silva’s story with 12 News earlier this month, detailing her efforts to find a specialized van to transport her son.
It caught the attention of a woman named Catherine, who reached out to 12 News regarding a van that belonged to her husband’s late uncle Larry Braman, a quadriplegic who passed away earlier this year.
“Larry was a wonderful guy,” Braman’s friend Phil Giffee said. “Nothing stopped Larry. He lived as fully as he could … he lived a long life.”
McNulty explained that their family wanted to donate the van to Llavet and Silva as a way to keep his legacy alive.
“The van is a gift,” Giffee said. “That’s just the way the universe and God works.”
Giffee said he didn’t know he was delivering the van directly to Llavet and Silva when he was asked to drive it from Cambridge to Providence last Friday.
“Larry is looking down on us,” Giffee said. “It’s really meaningful.”
The van ended up being a perfect fit for Silva.
“We are eternally grateful for this gift,” Llavet told Giffee through a translator. “We really did need it, we can’t tell you how much we needed this.”
Erin O’Brien, Silva’s school nurse, helped Llavet raise money for a specialized van before Braman’s family came forward.
“It was my goal that, by the end of the school year, they’d have a van,” O’Brien said. “When they explained [who Larry was], it’s Dereck to a T. He doesn’t stop, and he won’t let you stop him.”
That sentiment wasn’t lost on Giffee, who had one message for Silva after giving his mother the keys to the van.
“I know you will get around and do a lot of great things with this,” Giffee told Silva. “As Larry would say, ‘just go enjoy [your life].'”