WESTFIELD, Ind. (WTHR) – Sitting with her family in a Carmel restaurant, 47-year-old Jennifer Schmidt never saw it coming.
Schmidt got a surprise visit from a special visitor, good Saint Nicholas, accompanied by dozens of Jennifer’s friends, all of them there to share some very special news.
“You, Jennifer Schmidt are being presented with the completion of a handicap bathroom remodel for your master bathroom,” said Maria Bedford, one of Schmidt’s longtime friends.
For the wife and mother of six, a bathroom remodel is so much more than paint and some new tile.
“I just celebrated my 25th anniversary of MS. I’ve had MS for 25 years,” Schmidt said.
She was just 22 when she got the multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
“I was convinced I was going to be one of those, well, it’s not going to get me, I’ll still be running and doing whatever I want,” Schmidt said.
When she hit 40, though, the simplest things like taking a shower got harder.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen and how difficult it is and how much of a challenge it is,” said Schmidt.
Driving got harder too, with her wheelchair.
“With my current van, I can’t get myself in and out to go wherever I want to go,” said Schmidt.
That all changed when Schmidt Friday when a white, wheelchair-accessible van with a red bow on top appeared.
“Are you kidding me?” Schmidt said, sobbing.
The Saint Nicholas Neighbor in Need Foundation, started by two of Schmidt’s friends Maria Bedford and Molly Tittle, gave her the van.
“We’ve been helping her for many years and seeing the struggles she has on a daily basis and she was really our impetus for the foundation,” said Bedford.
“I’ll be able to go places on my own. I’ll be able to do things on my own. It sounds crazy, but I haven’t done that in a long time,” Schmidt said, smiling.
For Schmidt, it’s the simple things that matter, like time with her family, enjoying her friends and now a greater sense of independence.
“All I can say is there’s so much to be grateful for and I’m so overwhelmed and so blessed,” Schmidt said through tears.
Story by Emily Longnecker of WTHR-TV 13 | NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Jennifer Schmidt, a wife and mother of six, was just 22 when she was diagnosed with MS. (Photo: WTHR)