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Suncoast musician needs help getting wheelchair ramp equipped mini-van

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VENICE, FL (WWSB) - Playing music and teaching it is what George Lebess does best.  Unfortunately, it's been very challenging for him to get around because his old car keeps breaking down and it's not a vehicle that is ideal for someone in a wheelchair.

"Pulling the chair in out, lifting, it has handle controls, my shoulders and my hands are worn out and it's just getting to be too much," said Lebess.

The process of getting in and out of the car takes several minutes for the 66-year-old and he has to keep his fingers crossed that the car will start and get him to where he's going.  Back in 1990, Lebess was in a motorcycle accident where a vehicle struck him.  That left him paralyzed from the chest down.  Lebess says his wife has had many health issues as well and has been out of work, so there have been many financial difficulties, including not being able to get a new vehicle.  On top of that, he's also a colon cancer survivor.

"Because of my age and the issue with the wheelchair, I need a van," said Lebess.

The van that Lebess needs is a wheelchair ramp equipped mini-van.  Some folks at Troll Music in Venice, where Lebess is an instructor, recently started a GoFundMe page to help him out.  At this point they've been able to raise a few thousand dollars of the more than $20,000 needed for the van.  They are hoping a lot more people will step up to help out."

"Some really wonderful people have come forward to donate what they can to help out," said Cliff Randi, a Lesson Director with Troll Music and your heart breaks when you see him trying to get in and out of there.  He's got so much to offer, the students love him, we love him, he's one of the easiest guys to work with and he's just great."

George Lebess has been playing the saxophone, flute, clarinet and other instruments now for around 50 years and has touched the lives of so many, especially his students. 

"I'm grateful for any help that can be given to me," said Lebess.

For more information on how you can help out George Lebess you can go to the Wheels for George GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/wheelchair-vehicle-for-george, or by calling Troll Music at 941-484-8765.