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Family Raises Money to Purchase Over 500 Wheelchairs

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Eight years ago a determined first grader opened up “Zack’s Shack”, a lemonade and cookie stand, with the hopes of raising around $85 to donate one wheelchair. He’s far exceeded that initial goal, managing to raise over $75,000 to purchase more than 500 wheelchairs! As Zack prepares to enter high school, he is handing over the reins to his younger sister Helen. She will carry on the family business in the form of “Helen’s Hut”.

Over the years Zack’s Shack has gained National media attention from several outlets including People Magazine and The Huffington Post. He even received large donations from Steve Harvey and a grant from State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist program. Zack started his own website www.itfeelsgreattogive.com to receive donations from those who couldn’t make it to the stand. One of the biggest challenges has been that the cost of the wheelchair has more than doubled since the first year. As he prepares to begin high school in the fall, Zack is excited to participate in sports, new activities and look for another exciting charitable project to get involved with.

Looking back on the past 8 years, his parents Nancy and Danny are amazed at what their son has been able to accomplish. They can still remember counting up the money after the second year of the stand and explaining to Zack that he needed to deduct his future expenses to run the stand the following spring. This left Zack the cost of one wheelchair short of his goal, so he ran up to his room and emptied his piggy bank to purchase the last wheelchair. Today Zack will tell anyone “It takes money to make money”.

This past year Zack and his sister worked together, but next spring it will be all 7 year old Helen’s responsibilities and she is excited for the task. She plans to add a bell to ring for service and her favorite color pink to the stand.

We wish Helen the best of luck and look forward to seeing all of the success she will have in the future. If you are ever near Provo, Utah around spring break make sure to stop by and grab some cookies and lemonade!

Check out the video below to learn more about Zack’s story:

Jett Foundation Helps Tampa Family with Accessible Van

Scott Shelby, MobilityWorks of Tampa General Manager, congratulates Joe Wilcher and his son Austin.
Scott Shelby, MobilityWorks of Tampa General Manager, congratulates Joe Wilcher and his son Austin at our Tampa Florida store.

MobilityWorks was proud to be a part of the recent work done by the The Jett Foundation to help out a Tampa military family in need.

Austin Wilcher, a 12-year-old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, needs to use a power wheelchair or scooter for his mobility. In order to get Austin around from place to place, his father John, an active duty member of the military and single father,  needed to buy a van that he could ride the scooter up and inside the vehicle with the use of a wheelchair ramp. Fortunately, MobilityWorks of Tampa had the right van that met all of their travel needs. Forrest Bateman, the MobilityWorks Certified Mobility Consultant, then worked with Joe and Austin to make sure all of the equipment would be a perfect fit to keep Austin mobile and safe.

The family raised half of the funds needed to purchase an accessible van through donations on their First Giving Page. The Jett Giving Fund then matched the remaining 50 percent of the cost of the vehicle.

“This van will help me transport Austin safely and efficiently, and allow him more independence,” said Joe Wilcher. “Raising a son with Duchenne as a single Dad is difficult, and expensive.”

Congratulations Austin… and thank you Joe for your service in our military!

Fox 13 Tampa Captures the Moment

The Fox 13 News team came to MobilityWorks and reported on the Wilcher van donation in their 5/9/2017 newscast. Click on the You Tube video arrow below to view the news segment.

About Jett Foundation

Through the Jett Giving Fund, Jett Foundation partners with families affected by Duchenne to help ease the financial burden of medical and transportation equipment.

Since 2001, Jett Foundation, located in Kingston, MA, has worked to find treatments and a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy while improving the lives of those affected by Duchenne. Jett Foundation is a registered charity with 501(c)(3) status from the IRS; all donations are tax deductible.

Working to Improve Public School Accessibility in NYC

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The NYC Department of Education recently announced that they will be surveying every high school to determine which buildings need accessibility improvements.  One of the biggest issues parents and students have is that “accessible” should mean more than just having someone in a wheelchair be able to enter the building. There are several things that are commonly overlooked, like whether or not are there quality accessible restrooms, water fountains and classrooms. Many of their public schools are over a hundred years old and do not have elevators or a lift system on their stairs.

Moving in the Right Direction

Often times parents have the ability to choose which school they would like their child to attend, especially if they have any physical limitations. However, with hundreds of public schools in Manhattan alone, starting the process can be extremely overwhelming. To help with transforming the schools and with providing more information online, the NYC DOE recently announced a new project that will compile a 60 criteria database on accessibility information from all of the schools. To help communicate this information to the public, they hope to make this accessibility information and any new ADA improvements on the DOE’s NYC School Finder website. There is also a mobile app called “School Central NYC” that allows users to view detailed information on over 1,500 schools.

Fully Accessible, Partially Accessible and Inaccessible…

The NYC Department of Education accessibility page currently claims they have three tiers of schools:  fully accessible, partially accessible and inaccessible. They do not however provide a list of which schools fall into these categories. In 2015, the NY Daily News posted an article claiming that 83% of the NYC schools are not fully accessible. Hopefully their future projects and renewed efforts on improving accessibility will help bring that number down.

With a new focus on improved school accessibility coming from the nation’s largest city, hopefully towns all across America decide to follow in their footsteps!

A Van for Zachary and Sam

The Tuttle family live just south of Atlanta in Newman, GA where they are raising two wonderful children. Zachary (10) and Samantha (8) are both in wheelchairs and have several medical conditions. Zachary was born with the rare condition Eagle-Barrett syndrome, also known as Prune Belly, and both children have Neurological Development Delays. This makes daily life extremely challenging for the Tuttles, but it does not stop them from enjoying every minute possible!

Only in 1 in every 40,000 children are born with Eagle-Barrett syndrome which causes partial or complete absence of abdominal muscles. There is currently no cure and very little that can be done for treatment, but medical researchers are working hard to find some answers. The Tuttle’s are doing some of their own research as to why both of their children have rare neurological conditions. They have worked with Geneticists to trace back over 6 generations from both parents, and have no explanation. While they continue to look for answers, the Tuttle’s enjoy every moment with their children.

Zachary and Sam are both non-verbal, but have recently started to learn sign language. Some research shows that teaching non-verbal children sign language can help them learn how to speak. Both children also enjoy horse therapy which is proven to help relieve stress and anxiety. One of Zachary’s favorite activities is watching the Weather Channel. Every time the music for the “local on the 8’s” comes on he gets a huge smile on his face! One of their happiest family memories is from 2013 when Zachary was selected to be a part of “Bert’s Big Adventure”. Every year Bert Weiss from Q100 in Atlanta sends several families on a week-long paid vacation to Disney World!

The Tuttle family is full of love and compassion, but they are missing one thing, a wheelchair accessible van. They are currently raising funds on GoFundMe to purchase a vehicle that will fit both kids in their wheelchairs.

Click here to visit the Tuttle’s GoFundMe page

This is How We Roll Fashion Show

fashion_show_fittedEarlier this month the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation held their 4th annual “This is How We Roll Fashion Show”. The event was held just outside of Milwaukee, WI where almost 40 models, ranging in age from 5 to 70, showed off some of the latest trends in fashion. Current Miss Wisconsin winner Courtney Pelot and local celebrity Luke Bebeau hosted the show that was attended by almost 300 people.  This was their largest amount raised to date with over $35,000 being donated to help fund research as well as support the local community.

In 1998, while attending Marquette University, Bryon was injured in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Following the accident, his family and friends pulled together to put on a fundraiser that would help with Bryon’s medical costs. This inspired Bryon to form the nonprofit in 2001, that over the past 16 years has raised over $4 million dollars towards the fight against paralysis.  Every year they award research grants to some of the brightest minds and best research facilities in the United States. They also help individuals in the local community with the cost of adaptive equipment, as well as scholarships for college tuition.

Bryon Riesch puts on several other annual events including a golf outing, bowling tournament and a team race for kids. He initially organized the fashion show to bring attention to issues such as inclusion, medical research and improving accessibility. As his organization continues to grow and gain national media attention Bryon is looking forward to helping even more individuals and researchers.

Check out the video below to see some of the “This is How We Roll Fashion Show”