Faced with physical disabilities, 20-year-old Asiyah Haneef has never been able to drive a car.
Haneef of Woodstock was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. Known as AMC, the muscle disorder causes multiple joint contractures, or the tightening of muscles or tendons for too long.
“Pretty much every part of her body is impaired,” said her mother, Jennifer Ramirez.
Along with limited range of motion throughout her body, Haneef had her right leg amputated above the knee and has undergone numerous life-threatening surgeries. The condition doesn’t improve with time or therapy.
The family knew she’d need a modified vehicle to drive at all, but had no idea where to turn.
Having gone to Gary Lang Auto Group in McHenry before for vehicle services, Ramirez reached out to the business with questions.
“I walked in with the intent of just getting the information so we knew where to start,” she said.
Gary Lang Auto Group took it from there. With the help of McHenry Moose Lodge 691, the business is hosting Asiyah’s Rock For a Ride to help Haneef gain the independence she desires.
Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Moose Lodge, 3535 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg, the fundraiser will help the family buy a vehicle.
Tickets cost $10 and can be bought at the door or before the event at Gary Lang Auto group and the Moose Lodge. The fundraiser will feature live music from Libido Funk Circus, a 50/50 raffle and a money tree.
“When they said they were going to do that, I cried like a little girl,” said Ramirez, who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. “That wasn’t the expectation. It was amazing, really.”
A student at McHenry County College, with plans to become a social worker, Haneef simply wants to be able to get to class and work on her own. The family has been told the cost of the vehicle, along with needed modifications, could cost up to $100,000.
Wendy Wegner, director of marketing at Gary Lang, told the family’s story to manager Rick Diamond, who suggested the fundraiser. He turned to the Moose Lodge, which donated the space.
“There are a number of different organizations that can help her with the modifications needed and those financial obligations,” Wegner said. “It’s really the expense of the vehicle itself that I think is going to be the biggest thing. That’s what we’re trying to help.”
The effort has humbled the family.
The basic ability to venture out on her own, to not have to plan her days around the schedules of her mother and siblings, would change Haneef’s life, the family said.
“She literally has no independence whatsoever,” Ramirez said.
“She’s not a girl to asking for anything. Doing the fundraiser has been a little difficult for her because she has the tendency to not want to feel like a burden.”
Gary Lang continually works to give back to the community in many ways, but this family’s story stood out, Wegner said.
The family already has faced numerous medical expenses through the years, Wegner said, and buying a vehicle can seem daunting faced with so many challenges.
“It’s an opportunity for us to join forces with the Moose lodge and just be able to give this girl the independence she’s worked so hard for,” she said