Generosity of friends and strangers combine to provide new wheelchair van for 19 year old Lauren Gross
Lauren gross was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). When she was born, the doctors gave her a life expectancy of only 2 or 3 years. Lauren is now 19 years and not only is she thriving, she has been recently accepted to Olivet Nazarene University. She is the third generation in her family that has been accepted to this University. Due to the SMA, Lauren a Quadriplegic, is in a wheelchair and depends on a ventilator to breath. She communicates with a devise she controls with eye moment. Lauren currently lives with her father and has an army of different nurses that come in to assist with her active daily living. Their relationship is one of the strongest father-daughter relationships we have seen. Lauren’s father would do just about anything to give his daughter the opportunities she deserves. Her father works two jobs to get the medical care that she needs.
When Lauren started looking at colleges, it became apparent that she would need reliable transport. Currently she has to take public transportation everywhere and finds it unreliable and at times she has to walk a great distance with her nurse to the final destination. Lauren’s father, David, contacted MobilityWorks of Plainfield about a year ago and was connected to Bob Baumgartner. He performed a needs analysis and determined that a BraunAbility Conversion would be the best option for the family. Now it was time to locate funding for the vehicle. The Gross family was connected with GoFundMe.com, an online crowd-funding website. Lauren was determined to get the funding necessary so that she could attend school.
The Story Goes Viral...
Lauren started by posting on Facebook. She was getting some funding in, but it was coming in very slowly. Then one of her past caregivers asked a family member who wrote for a local paper to write a story on her. After hearing Lauren’s story he was happy and honored to write an article. This story was seen by WGN's Marcus Leshock, a reporter at WGN-TV in Chicago who was moved by her determination. Marcus airs a segment known as Mr. Brightside which looks for people who are making a positive impact on their community. WGN contacted the Gross family and interviewed them to air their story. WGN Story December 1st 2014.
Once the story aired, her page went viral. Donations started to fly in. Mr. Gross remembers being at work and getting inundated with alerts of donations coming in. The family rose over $61,400 in only 48 hours. Her story went from a few 1,000 likes to over 10,000. She had enough for a new accessible van, insurance and even enough for gas! Tim Yonke, the Daily Journal Assistant Managing Editor, later wrote a very heart-warming follow-up article titled "Why I owe more to Lauren Gross than she can imagine". He talks about his wife Berta who suffered through a five-year battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Lauren and her father have been humbled by all of the donations, and more importantly all the well wishes and kind words they received from her supporters. MobilityWorks of Plainfield was honored to be able to be a part of this process. Once the donations were raised, Bob met with the family again to pick out her van. Lauren took delivery of her van on December 18, 2014 at our Plainfield Illinois showroom. Her father stated to everyone involved and everyone that donated:
“This made a dream come true. Thank you is not enough! This is so overwhelming in such a great way.” — David Gross
MobilityWorks is super excited to see Lauren apply her determination in her future career. We are certain we will be hearing more great things about Lauren and her accomplishments.
Full Throttle Indoor Kart Racing and MobilityWorks Design a Go Kart for All-Inclusive Enjoyment
Back in August of 2014, Aaron Banfield part owner of Full Throttle Indoor Kart Racing came to MobilityWorks of Cincinnati and asked if we could put hand controls on a go kart. Aaron has a heart for the disabled community because he has people in his family that are in wheelchairs.
Chris Phillips, a Certified Mobility Consultant (CMC) and Mike Wylds, our Cincinnati store service technician, worked on a couple different styles of mechanical hand controls until we found one that would work. This go kart is now equipped with a motorcycle style gas and brake. Full Throttle is also adding leg supports, padding and a transfer board to the cart to make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to get in.
Full Throttle unveiled the Kart at a Cincinnati Cyclones game on December 6, 2014 where they drove it on the ice. The Cyclones are Cincinnati's Kelly Cup Championship winning Hockey Team that is affiliated of the NHL's Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators. They are also affiliated with AHL Milwaukee Admirals.
Full Throttle Indoor Kart Racing will be making the custom go kart racer, uniquely designed for racing enthusiasts that are in a wheelchair, available to the public shortly.
Full Throttle Racing and Racing4Vets Connection
The Racing4Vets Challenge is an exciting corporate sponsored event, recently held in the Cincinnati area at Full Throttle Indoor Karting in Springdale, OH. Ten corporate relay teams race for one hour on the indoor course. Proceeds from the challenge go to Racing4Vets to assist service-disabled military veterans and their families dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and physical injuries.
MobilityWorks Foundation Helps Organization Serving Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities
The MobilityWorks Foundation, Put-in-Bay Entertainers and Kepich Ford in Garrettsville Ohio came together this past Friday to present a brand new 2015 Ford Transit wheelchair van to Hattie Larlham, an organization in Northern Ohio that serves children and adults with severe developmental and physical disabilities.
The Ford Transit was converted by MobilityWorks Commercial staff with the latest technology in full-size adaptive vehicle conversions – for the purpose of transporting wheelchair riders and caregiving passengers to doctor’s appointments and community recreational programs.
“People with developmental disabilities need to have access to the community,” said Hattie Larlham CEO Dennis Allen. “They like to go to a variety of places and this vehicle makes that happen.”
In March of 2014 The MobilityWorks Foundation hosted a fundraiser at Tangiers entertainment complex in Akron Ohio featuring Mike 'Mad Dog' Adams and the Put-in-Bay Entertainers in order to help Hattie Larlham with this project. The day of entertainment raised more than $15,000 to help with the purchase of a new SmartFloor™ system by AMF Bruns of America, passenger seating, wheelchair securement system and a commercial-grade BraunAbility wheelchair lift.
“This vehicle is an opportunity for them [Hattie Larlham residents] to experience things, get out and be active,” said MobilityWorks President and CEO Bill Koeblitz. “I just can’t say enough about Hattie Larlham and the wonderful work they do. MobilityWorks is so proud to be a part of this project.”
Pete Kepich of Kepich Ford subsidized the van with a generous donation.
“It’s amazing the people that you can pull together to help other people,” said Kepich Ford President Pete Kepich. “To give back is very important, especially in today’s world, these folks need our help.”
Also on hand for the presentation of the keys were Assistant to the Mayor of Akron for Community Relations, Billy Soule, Mike Sweeney, the Tangier fund-raising organizer, and Mike “Mad Dog” Adams from Put-in-Bay Entertainers.
About Hattie Larlham
Established in 1961, Hattie Larlham is a non-profit organization that provides services to 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Hattie Larlham inspires people with disabilities and their families to dream and achieve through the medical, residential, work training and recreational services the organization offers. For more information, visit www.hattielarlham.org.
About The MobilityWorks Foundation
The MobilityWorks Foundation is an Akron-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides financial assistance, vehicles and or equipment to selected individuals requiring adaptive vehicles or driving aids. 50% of individuals looking to purchase adaptive transportation lack financial assistance. The foundation's goal is to make the world accessible for physically challenged individuals and families. Its funding comes from direct donations, fund-raising, sponsorships and grants. For more information, visit www.themobilityworksfoundation.org.
For some guys, and some ladies, there really isn't any other choice. They love their trucks and that's it. The message we get from many of our spinal cord injury clients is very clear... "I want to keep driving a pickup, not a minivan." Fortunately we have a few options that suit the needs for many of our truck lovers. The first is a MobilitySVM pickup truck conversion (shown above). This type of custom truck can be made for either the driver or passenger side position. The SVM door slides straight out from the cabin with a wheelchair lift as part of the door. The seat shown can be removed so that a wheelchair driver can stay in his or her wheelchair, secured by a docking device.
A second option would be for the wheelchair driver to transfer from the wheelchair to a lift-up seat. The wheelchair would be hoisted into the bed with a special lift that swings out and lowers a strap for attaching to the chair. Push-button controls operated remotely raise, turn and lower the wheelchair into the bed. The special seating, also push-button controlled, allows for the driver to rise up and turn into the driver position.
These are two popular options, among others, that when combined with hand controls, seating and transfer solutions, can make riding in or driving in a pickup truck with a wheelchair a reality. A lot depends of the person's cognitive and physical abilities and the driving evaluation of a certified driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS) that can be found at www.driver-ed.org. Contact us today for more information. You can also view our wheelchair pickup trucks for sale here.
ABLE Act would allow for tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation without effecting other benefits.
The ABLE Act stands for A Better Life Experience. For many people with disabilities and those who have children with a disability, it’s a major change in the IRS tax code that affects how individuals, caregivers, parents and friends can collect and save money for the future without having to worry about its effect on other benefits, such as the Medicaid program.
Known as H.R. 647, the ABLE Act of 2014 is a bi-partisan bill that passed on December 3, 2014 by a 404-17 vote in the House and now moves to the Senate.
"Right now, people with disabilities aren’t given the chance to save much of what they earn. It’s an outdated law that only encourages them to resign themselves to a life of dependence...
The ABLE Act will change that."
— Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State is the primary sponsor of the new legislation. Her 7-year old son Cole has Down syndrome. It is the first major disability legislation in 25 years.
To follow this bill through the Senate and to the White House, go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/647.