Local group donates chairlift to Norfolk family

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach organization is working with a Mobility Supercenter in Norfolk to give the family of a woman with cerebral palsy a new chairlift.

22-year-old Mariah Conrath was born with the disease and has to use a chairlift to get up and down the stairs in her home.

“It just slowly started breaking down about five years ago,” said Conrath’s mother Teresa Johnson.

Johnson says the machine is 15 years old and often breaks down. It’s difficult for Johnson to carry Conrath, especially when Conrath’s father is out-of-town for work. The Johnsons say replacing the machine would cost too much money for their military family.

“Financially, it’s something we can not just pick up and do because it cost so much money,” Johnson says.

The family has tried finding financial assistance for military families. But the non-profit organization Noblemen offered to help.

Mike Arlinsky, with the Noblemen, says the organization was started in 1995 as a way to raise money for medical costs for founder Al Midgett’s infant son. The Noblemen reached out to the Mobility Supercenter to help the Johnsons.

“A couple of weeks ago, they contacted the Mobility Supercenter and said we might have a project you want to help out with,” says Ron Charlton, who is the store’s general manager.

His team went out to assess Johnson’s chairlift and determined it needed to be replaced. He says replacing the chairlift costs more than $3,000 and the business is excited to help the Johnsons fix this problem.

The Johnsons say getting the replacement is a blessing years in the making and they thank everyone who made this possible.

“It’s something they didn’t have to do. They chose to do this. It’s greatly appreciated,” Johnson says.