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AZ woman with MS pays it forward to her inspiration

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
LAVEEN, AZ (CBS5) -

A Laveen woman battling multiple sclerosis pays it forward to a fellow Arizonan who has been her inspiration.

Stephanie Scovell is facing a difficult transition. MS has left her with no feeling below her waist and she is having to spend more and more time in a wheelchair.

At first, she didn't want to be seen in the chair outside or in the public, but she found incredible inspiration from a woman she has never met.

"She'd given me the ability to go outside in my wheelchair and not be afraid or not be embarrassed. She's given me that empowerment," Scovell said.

Scovell is talking about Jennifer Longdon, who was shot by an unknown assailant in 2004 and barely survived. The shooting left her paralyzed. In the decade since, Longdon has wheeled marathons and become an advocate for disability and gun control issues.

"I don't find it inspirational. I just get up and get out of bed every day and I just don't find that inspirational," Longdon said.

"I don't think she realizes that she truly is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Scovell said.

Scovell found out that Longdon's specially equipped van was falling apart.

"The air conditioning doesn't work, the windows don't roll down, there's a problem with the engine," Longdon said.

Paralysis leaves her the inability to regulate her body temperature so even 10 minutes in a van with no air conditioning in the summer could be deadly and Longdon didn't have the money to fix it.

"You and I have never met, but I have been following you on Facebook for awhile and I knew I was going to do this, you are such an inspiration to me and so many people in Phoenix, you have no idea, and when I heard that your van was having problems, I immediately emailed Channel 5 and said we have to pay it forward," Scovell said to Longdon.

"There will be air conditioning in the van this week, thank you," Longdon said.

"I'm gratified. There's this knee-jerk embarrassment that you become the center of attention and that so many people are focused on you, but when you get down to what it really means, these are people that really care, who pay attention and who want to do something. And I'm touched by their generosity, so thank you," Longdon said.

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