New Orleans Saints Owners Tom and Gayle Benson recently wactched a moving news report on Fox-8 about local honors student Lauran Mayeaux and her family and it inspired them to want to help.
Lauran, a 13-year-old Haynes Academy honor student, was born with an extremely rare disorder called amoplasia congenita with arthrogyposis, meaning she has no skeletal muscle below her neck. She gets around with her motorized chair by controlling it with her chin. She doesn't let the disorder slow her down and is able to write her own homework using a pen in her mouth. Lauran does not think of herself as different and just goes about life like any 13-year-old girl. She loves Niles from One Direction and laughs with friends at lunch.
Lauran's handicap-accessible van saw its final days in December. Since then her family has been using a borrowed van without proper equipment. Lauran's parents made a wooden ramp with makeshift tie downs in order to make it work Lauran and her family had been hoping to raise enough money to buy new a handicap-accessible van but were not close to the amount they needed.
Lauran's family was invited to the Saints facility on Thursday afternoon for what they thought was an interview with Lauran's mother, Melissa, on being a strong mother for a Mother's Day feature the team was producing.
What Lauran and her family didn't realize is that the Bensons had a special surprise in store. A gift bag was presented to Melissa with a 2014 team autographed lithograph football and a purse. Gayle Benson then opened the purse to show Melissa that there were car keys inside. The Mayeaux family was then overwhelmed to learn that the Bensons had given them a new Dodge Caravan with BraunAbility features. The Bensons worked with Crescent Vans to secure the automobile for the family.
"We wanted to help out. And that's what happened," Tom Benson said. "You can see how great it is, too. What a wonderful thing for a wonderful young lady. Glad to be a part of it."
After seeing her story on the news, the Benson family bought Lauran Mayeaux a handicap-accessible van. Photos by Alex Restrepo. (New Orleans Saints photos)