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Watertown Town Clerk makes the finals in handicapped-accessible van contest

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WATERTOWN — Watertown Deputy Town Clerk Pamela D. Desormo has made the final cut.

Mrs. Desormo, 49, is one of 147 people nationwide still hoping to win a handicapped-accessible van through a national contest. Four people will win vans through the Tampa Bay, Fla.-based National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

Now, she will have to wait two more weeks before she finds out. “I just have to sit tight until May 30,” she said Friday.

Mrs. Desormo and about 1,300 other handicapped people across the country initially competed in the contest. She accumulated 14,018 votes. Mrs. Desormo thanked everyone who took the time to vote for her online. “It’s so nice they did that,” she said.

A panel of judges will review the contestants’ stories and select the winners.

Since becoming wheelchair-bound nearly two years ago, Mrs. Desormo has relied on rides from family and friends to and from work, to go grocery shopping and to attend her 10-year-old daughter’s school events. Paralyzed from the waist down, Mrs. Desormo needs help to get into and out of the car wherever she goes.

The dealers association sponsors the contest, now in its third year, to promote mobility awareness and make others mindful of the changing ways the world views people with disabilities.

More than 18 million people in North America live with restrictive mobility issues, according to the organization.

Four customized, wheelchair-accessible vehicles will be awarded to the Local Hero winners. Last year, more than 2.3 million votes were tallied. Contestants in Lexington, Ky., Villa Park, Ill., and Victoria, British Columbia, received prize vehicles. This year, two Toyota Siennas, a Dodge Caravan and a Mobility Venture MV-1 will be given away.

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