MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) — A local high school student is making her little brother’s health her top priority. Morristown West senior Rylee Linkous is raising money to get a wheelchair-accessible van for her brother, and she says it would be a game-changer for her family.
If anyone were to meet siblings Xander and Rylee Linkous, you almost instantaneously knew they’re best friends. Rylee says, “He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s beautiful in my opinion. He Is just perfect to me.”
So, it comes as no surprise that Rylee’s heart beats for her brother. She’s doing what she can to help him, currently collecting donations to fund a wheelchair-accessible van. Xander can’t walk, talk, or feed himself.
“When Xander was about five weeks old he was smothered by my biological mother,” Rylee says. “Who was addicted to drugs at the time and she still is. Since then, it kind of caused a lot of reactions. After the incident, he was diagnosed with brain damage, delayed motor skills and delayed speaking skills.”
The family is on the road frequently, heading to different doctor’s appointments for Xander, but Rylee says it’s getting more difficult to lift him into the van they’ve got now. She says the task will be even harder on her grandma when Rylee leaves for college next year. That’s why getting a more accessible van is so important to her.
“I would know that he is able to go to the places he needs to go, but also the places that he wants to go. I feel like he deserves the right to travel like anyone and his weight or current situation shouldn’t stop him from that.”
She adds that she plans on continuing to advocate for her brother, serving as his voice. “I’ve always wanted to be the person that I needed when I was younger. If I can do that for not only him but for other people, I know it can change somebody’s life.”
So far, Rylee has raised around $11,000 of her $35,000 goal. Here’s a link to her fundraiser if you’re interested in giving.