A second-grader with a rare genetic condition is riding to her doctor’s appointments in style—free of charge—thanks to one kind-hearted limo driver.
At just 8 years old, Mary Alice Tryda has endured much in her young life as a result of a rare condition that doctors were unable to diagnose until recently, her mother, Kelly Tryda, says.
“We had a lot of problems with the pregnancy,” Kelly, 41, tells PEOPLE. “She was born with broken hips, and she spent time in a spica cast for about eight months as a baby. As she grew, she remained really small in stature and developed a fully dislocated knee.”
Doctors eventually diagnosed Mary Alice with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, an incurable rare condition made up of a series of disorders that affect the connective tissues of skin, bones, blood vessels and other organs, according to the National Library of Medicine. Infants and children with the syndrome usually have weak muscle tone and loose joints, which lead to frequent dislocation and chronic pain. Their skin will also be stretchy and fragile and will be prone to bruises or abnormal scarring.
“The syndrome has taken her out of all the sports she loves. She was an amazing gymnast. She played basketball, she was a cheerleader, and she can’t do any of that right now,” Kelly says. “As we were working with doctors and discovering more, they said the activities weren’t safe, that if she took a hard landing, it would be really bad.”
Mary Alice also has brittle cornea syndrome, a condition related to Ehlers-Danlos that causes abnormalities of the eye and can lead to her retina becoming detached during activities.
When the family moved from Ohio to Massachusetts last year, Mary Alice’s doctor referred them to a specialist based at Boston Children’s Hospital, about 30 miles from their new home in Bridgewater. Not knowing what to expect from their first trip to the hospital last August, Kelly went on Facebook to ask neighbors on how to make the drive a bit more tolerable.
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Yet, instead of only receiving some traffic tips and advice, Kelly got a message from a kind stranger who wanted to do a bit more to help the family.
Over Facebook, Steven Hipolito—owner of Silver City Limousine—offered to drive Mary Alice and the family in one of his limos for the nearly hour-long trip to Boston, and they wouldn’t need to spend a dime.
“I was little skeptical, you know?” Kelly recalls. “But I did my due diligence, I did the research, and the company was real and he was listed as the owner, and so he and I talked a little bit more.”
After some convincing from Hipolito, Kelly finally took him up on the offer.
Hipolito soon made good on his word and showed up in a blacked-out ride to surprise Mary Alice in time for her first appointment at the new hospital.
“Steve got out of the car and he introduced himself and got right down on Mary Alice’s level and talked to her,” Kelly says. “That was amazing. He helped her into the car, helped buckle her seat belt, opened the door for me, and then off we went. “
Mary Alice then got the five-star treatment and enjoyed some sparkling grape juice en route to the hospital.
“She loved it. She thought she was big stuff!” Kelly says. “She couldn’t wait to tell her friends. She thought it was great.”
Since then, Hipolito has set up Mary Alice with rides to her monthly appointments six other times (and counting). And when he can’t drive the family himself, Hipolito assigns other drivers to answer the call.
“He made the commitment to her and he’s very specific about that,” Kelly explains. “He said, ‘This is my promise to her, and I will honor this with her.’ “
In an interview with Fox 25, Hipolito said he was driven many times to the hospital by his mother as a child and felt connected to what Kelly must be feeling.
“It’s amazing there are people like him out there who do this and want nothing in return. Not a thing,” Kelly says. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me. He’s just happy to get his time with Mary Alice and hang out with her, and he has such a genuine heart.”