RICHMOND — A community group will use the town’s annual summer celebration to help a family whose two expensive, custom-made vans were damaged in a crash last month.

Three members of the Brown family — father Gerald and his sons, Steve and Jeff — have a type of genetic ataxia, which causes lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements and requires them to use wheelchairs.

But in June, three of the family’s vehicles, including two specially equipped vans that they can drive, were hit while parked outside the Browns’ home on Front Street. Richmond police arrested Jon Madore, 58, of Dresden, on charges of failure to report the accident and leaving the scene.

The two vans are valued at $68,000 and $50,000 each and while the latter van has since been fixed, the other is likely to be deemed to be totaled by an insurance company, said Steve Brown, 49, who had the vans for only two months.

Since the crash, he said the family has racked up $9,000 in costs for renting vans and driving back and forth between Brewer, where the family bought the vans.

Steve Brown said he’s an Air Force veteran of the Gulf War, so veterans’ benefits paid for the vans. He said the insurance company has been hard to deal with, partly because of the complicated fixes the pricey vehicles require.

“It’s like I’m fighting a whole new war,” he said.

But on Friday evening and Saturday night, the Browns will get a lift from the local Grange chapter at Richmond Days, which will hold a food sale, games and drawings for prizes, said Marilyn Stinson, secretary of Enterprise Grange 48. The annual event is highlighted by the Saturday parade at 10 a.m., along with nighttime fireworks.

Steve Brown said his family needs the community’s help. His family members have missed doctors appointments and his 74-year-old mother had quit work to help her husband and sons.

Now, “she has to go back to work,” he said. “We can’t afford this.”

The Browns tried to raise a chunk of that money online, but it didn’t take root. As of Wednesday, they had less than $400 in contributions. After that lack of success, Stinson said the Grange got involved because “it seemed like a good thing to do.”

“I have a lot of respect for that family for what they’ve been through,” she said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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