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Foundation helps man get back on his wheels

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Ryan O’Neill (bottom left) with Troy and Kyle Schultz and their mom, Jodi Halverson, pause for a photo the day Kyle Schultz got a new motorized wheelchair through The O’Neill Foundation of Hope. O’Neill, who grew up in New Prague, and his family created the foundation in 2022 to help people. Kyle Schultz had his van and motorized wheelchair stolen Monday, July 10, and the foundation purchased a new wheelchair for Schultz by the end of the week. (Submitted photo)

Hope. That one word in the form of a tattoo led The O’Neill Foundation of Hope to help Kyle Schultz, who has ALS, receive a new motorized wheelchair.

“I was watching the news and I saw he had his van and wheelchair stolen,” said Ryan O’Neill who grew up in New Prague and founded the foundation, a private 501c3, with his brother, Tim, in 2022.

Schultz, 26, lives in St. Paul and has been dealing with ALS for two years. ALS is an incurable disease that weakens muscles over time and attacks the nervous system, eventually making walking and talking difficult.

Jodi Halverson, Schultz’s mom, said the van was stolen at 4:35 a.m. Monday morning, July 10. The wheelchair was in the van.

Local TV stations had the story that evening about how the van, the motorized wheelchair and other equipment was stolen.

“I knew we had to do something,” said 'O’Neill. “My heart just broke.”

“I noticed he (Schultz) had a tattoo that said ‘hope’,” O’Neill said while he watched the newscast.

Halverson explained she and her son were going to get matching tattoos one day, but she changed her mind. “Kyle wanted to get ‘hope’ tattooed on the side of his face. He also got a cross on the other side,” she said. Halverson said hope is something her son is expressing even though he knows the outcome of having ALS.

“ALS is to anyone a death sentence,” said Halverson.

O’Neill made contact with Schultz’s brother, Troy, by Tuesday, July 11.

“Troy called me up and said, ‘Mom, you’re not going to...

To see more on this story pick up the July 20, 2023 print edition of The New Prague Times.