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Idaho nonprofit plans virtual auction to make 4-year-old's home wheelchair-accessible

Chair the Hope came up with an innovative plan to help a local boy and struggling businesses at the same time.

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho nonprofit is hoping to raise some big money this week to help out a Treasure Valley boy with spina bifida, while also giving a boost to local businesses.

Chair the Hope was founded in Meridian but helps those with disabilities throughout the world by delivering wheelchairs and medical devices to them free of charge.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the organization decided to start a project closer to home.

"There's a lot of hard news going on but we want to be a positive force for doing good and helping others in our community," said Heather Ogden, co-founder and executive director of Chair the Hope.

The group didn't have to look far to find a deserving recipient of this week's virtual auction.

Tommy Marshall is a 4-year-old boy who was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly.

To help him get around a little easier, businesses throughout the Treasure Valley donated money to help buy items for a virtual auction.

The purchased items came from local businesses that could use a revenue boost amid the pandemic.

Money raised from the virtual auction will go toward making Tommy's home wheelchair accessible and includes building ramps around his home, a concrete path through his backyard, a swing, and more.

"His home has stairs coming out the front and the back. So both his parents and his caregiver have to help him get [outside] - with two people to carry him," Ogden explained. "So we want him to be able to experience life without those challenges."

The live virtual auction will take place on Chair the Hope's Facebook page starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. Bidding is already underway, and participants can view the items up for auction here.

RELATED: Chair the Hope: Meridian family bikes 1,200 miles to raise money for wheelchairs

RELATED: 'We hope that people really embrace it': Former Meridian mayor seeks to honor inspirational Idahoans

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