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Floyd woman receives long-awaited present from family

Bristol Herald Courier - 6/11/2018

It was the surprise of a lifetime for Robin Plowman.

She had been out to the doctor's office and arrived home to find an "awesome" present - a SUV with a bow on it, a gift from her father, Tom Plowman.

Robin, 57, has cerebral palsy and has never owned a vehicle. When she saw the car, she wrote on Facebook that she felt more like a 16 year old.

"I was totally shocked," she said.

As Robin was growing up, her parents raised her to be as independent as possible. She carried that same spirit into adulthood.

"I did the normal stuff that any other child would do," she said. "They didn't let my disability stop us from doing stuff."

The family - including Robin's sister Tere Aldinger, who is a year older - enjoyed camping together, and Robin liked going to summer camp. At home, there were also chores to do, and she did her part there, too.

Her Honda Element isn't exactly new, her father explained to her, but it has been modified to accommodate her power wheelchair.

"For a year now, my dad said he was going to get me a van of my own so I would have more opportunities," Robin said.

Previously she had to set up public transportation for doctor's visits out of Floyd, and when she traveled with others, she would have to substitute a manual wheelchair for her power ride, and she would get on the passenger seat. Now, with her new vehicle, Robin said she just "rolls right in."

Tom Plowman had traveled from Florida to give her the Honda. Robin's mother Pat passed away 3 years ago.

"Even though my mom is no longer here, I think she'd be so happy for me with getting the car," she said.

Robin had lived in Pennsylvania all of her life. At age 21, she had moved out of her parents' home to live independently at the Margaret E. Moul Home, a nursing rehab founded for adults with cerebral palsy, and now also including adults with spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and other neuromuscular impairments.

"It was started by a preschool teacher of mine," said Robin, who lived there for 27 years. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here today - meaning they helped me be as independent as possible."

Robin speaks out for people with disabilities and asks others to "treat them like they would anybody else. If they seem like they are not aware, just talk and treat them like anybody else ? and ask before you assume anybody needs help. Sometimes people want to help (me), and I don't need help. I want to be as independent as possible. But I appreciate help when I need it."

As Robin has gotten older, she said that doing certain household tasks, for instance cooking and cleaning, have been more challenging. She now has aides helping her 12 hours a day. Angie Huff, one of the aides, has been with Robin almost from the beginning of her arrival in Floyd. They have taken some long trips together, including visits up to see Robin's friends at the rehab in Pennsylvania.

Cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting movement, muscle tone and motor skills, is caused by damage to the brain, usually before or during a baby's birth. The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary. Robin has been a wheelchair all of her life. She has ongoing physical therapy to strengthen her legs.

"That's vital for me to live independently," she said.

Robin enjoys the independence she has with her power wheelchair, which can go up to 6 miles per hour. "I go slower, so the charge stays up longer." Every five years, her insurance allows her to get a new wheelchair.

Robin, known for her outgoing personality, says she likes the friendliness of the people in Floyd.

"Now people will say, 'Hi, Robin'," and I think, how do people know me?"

 
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