SAN DIEGO -- A local company is helping a disabled woman who lost her San Carlos home and car in a fire. Lily Bandak could only scream as the fire early Wednesday morning consumed everything around her. Bandak, who has multiple sclerosis and is paralyzed from the neck down, was trapped in her burning home with no way out.
"I kept saying to my sister, Deanna, 'Just leave me here and you go," Bandak said. "What does my sister mean to me? She's my life," said Deanna Bandak. Deanna Bandak said she planned to stick by her sister's side to the end, knowing that could be near. "We go together; she's my sister," she said. But the sisters were not alone, as San Diego police Officer Diana Hodges, and neighbors Todd and Gary Cameron dove in and pulled Lily Bandak through the window.
Employees at La Mesa-based Better Life Mobility saw 10News' story and decided to loan Bandak a wheelchair-accessible van at no cost.
"These people don't even know me, and they're so nice to me," said Bandak.
"You're really getting your independence, you're getting your freedom, dignity back. You don't need any assistance getting in and out of a vehicle," said Mo Abusham, president and owner of Better Life Mobility.
Being confined to a wheelchair never stopped Bandak from her work as a world-renowned photographer. After being diagnosed with MS in 1984, Bandak found a way around it by mounting a camera to her wheelchair. The wheelchair broke in 2005.
Bandak said the fire destroyed nearly all of her collection of photographs.
"I've lost all my life's work," she told 10News.
She has devoted her life to helping others with disabilities, but now she is the one getting a needed lift.
"If I give up, that's no good … what goes around, I guess, comes around," said Bandak.
Bandak also talked to Better Life Mobility about outfitting her wheelchair with a new camera to start shooting again.