An Oceanside teenager with a disability was able to get behind the wheel for the first time after Make-A-Wish Foundation granted her wish to be more independent.
Erin Danzer, 18, was diagnosed with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, FOP, at 10-months-old. The disease causes connective tissues and muscles to turn to bone.
There is no cure yet.
Erin graduated from Mission Vista High School and began attending Mira Costa College. She was driven to school and the movie theater where she works by her family or relied on buses and Lyft.
According to a spokesperson for the San Diego Make-A-Wish Foundation, Danzer's wish was to be independent so she would not have to rely others to go from place to place.
Lori Danzer, Erin's mom, spoke with NBC 7 on the phone Wednesday.
She said Erin's back is locked due to extra bones and she is unable to turn her head or reach forward with her arms.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation in San Diego teamed up with Golden Boy Mobility to modify Erin's car. They added mirrors, a spinner knob on the steering wheel and a strap to the back so Erin could easily open the hatchback.
Only 800 people around the world have been diagnosed with the disease, and Erin is the only one in San Diego, her mom Lori Danzer told NBC 7. Any kind of trauma to muscles or tendons, including getting the flu or vaccinations can cause bone growth.
"It's misdiagnosed a lot," Lori said.
She added that the results of a misdiagnosis can be devastating as people may go through surgeries, get vaccines or other medical procedures without knowing it could aggravate the disease.
Lori said her daughter is ecstatic to have car she is able to drive.
“I am just so happy to see her be able to be so independent," she said.
She explained that the entire process took about a year and a half. Erin had to undergo different assessments to figure out how the car should be modified to fit her specific needs.
“Tomorrow, we don’t know what will happen, but today she can drive," she said, adding that she is so happy and thankful to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“Everybody has worked together to help Erin gain her independence."
Lori said Erin is currently taking a gap year off from college.