KCBD Investigates Discounting Danger: Anonymous donor gives wheelchair-accessible van to Lubbock shooting survivor

Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 6:23 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2023 at 6:29 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - An anonymous donation has given a Lubbock man the first sense of freedom he has felt in months.

A shooting rampage in March left one person dead and three others injured.

Florencio Rivera survived the shooting but is now a quadriplegic.

“This didn’t stop me. It may have put a little pause on things, but I’m still here and I’m going to keep fighting,” Rivera said.

Rivera said doctors told him it would be too dangerous to remove the bullet from his neck, a bullet that robbed him of his ability to walk.

Rivera has gained some mobility in his arms since the shooting, just enough to operate an electric wheelchair.

Rivera said while the electric wheelchair has given him some independence, it has been challenging to watch the children he once provided for, now learn to care for him.

Rivera said his children are working to find ways to make their homes wheelchair accessible, so he will be able to join them in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Rivera was not even sure if he would make it to holiday get-togethers until now.

In October, the KCBD Investigates Team ran a story about Rivera and his need for wheelchair-accessible transportation.

A viewer saw that story and donated a wheelchair-accessible van to the Rivera family, which was customized by Mears Mazda Volvo.

“We are really excited we are able to help out a local family,” Mears General Manager and President, Cameron Irwin said. “It’s outfitted in a specific way, it’s not just a normal van.”

Rivera’s daughter, Alexis Rivera, and his mother, Solia Rivera, went to Mears to pick up the van and learn how to work all the bells and whistles.

“It’s fantastic. I love it!” Alexis said.

Solia and Alexis went straight home to show Rivera his new ride.

“I love it. It’s awesome. I am truly blessed to get that and know there are still good people in the world who would do that for a stranger,” Rivera said.

The Rivera family said the van will save them hundreds of dollars a month in transportation costs.

Solia said hiring a wheelchair-accessible vehicle to take Rivera to his weekly doctor appointments costs between $70 and $90, and sometimes he has multiple appointments a week.

Aside from saving money, Florencio is excited about outings beyond hospital visits.

“There is so much I want to do now, I can’t even think. So many places I want to go, visit my family and friends, I am just overwhelmed right now,” Rivera said.

The Rivera family is still raising money for medical equipment and renovations to make their home wheelchair-accessible.

If you would like to make a donation, click here.