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Funds Raised for Milwaukee Family After Their Accessible Van is Stolen

On Christmas morning, the Figueroa family started their minivan to warm it up before heading out to visit family. They went inside to get a few gifts and their two boys, both of whom use wheelchairs. When they came outside again, their wheelchair accessible van was gone.

The Figueroa’s stolen van was originally donated by the Penfield Children’s Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both of their sons, 7-year-old David and 4-year-old Raylan, visit the center for treatment. Imelda and Jose Figueroa only had their Toyota Sienna for a few months before it was stolen. The van was found just days later about six miles away from their home where the thieves set it on fire.

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Church Fundraiser Helps Michigan Family Purchase an Accessible Van

Dean, Debbie and Jamie Dillon with Mobility Consultant Matt Roeder in front of their new wheelchair accessible van.
Dean, Debbie and Jamie Dillon with Mobility Consultant Matt Roeder in front of their new wheelchair accessible van.

When Jaime was 28 years old her parents Debbie and Dean Dillon, began to notice she was stumbling and having a hard time walking. In 2004, she was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and has been in a wheelchair since 2005.  Earlier this month, Jaime received her first accessible van thanks to a special fundraiser from their family’s church.

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Wheelchair Accessible Van Saves Lives in Driving Accident

Over the summer, Sheila Harness and her family were driving back from a fun filled day at the Huron County Fair just outside of Cleveland, OH. Sheila’s son Adam was driving their 2012 Chrysler Town and Country van with a BraunAbility conversion back to their home in Lorain. With his Uncle Brad safely secured in his wheelchair in the backseat and his younger brother, mom and girlfriend all in the van, it was just like any number of day trips the Harness family enjoys taking.

Then, out of nowhere, Adam spotted a Ford F-250 barreling towards them driving the wrong direction at upwards of 65 mph! With quick reflexes, Adam swerved to his right avoiding a head-on collision and probably saving he and his girlfriend’s lives. Unfortunately, he was unable to avoid the truck completely as it swiped the entire side of their van leaving it completely destroyed, but luckily no one was seriously injured.

Now that months have passed since the accident, Sheila and her family are so happy to be alive. Sheila said that if they had not brought her brother Brad along that day, her family would’ve been riding in their small sedan. She knows that if that was the case they probably would not have all survived.

“We are so thankful for our van from MobilityWorks” Sheila states. “In the 5 years that we had it, never once was there an issue with the ramp or anything. BraunAbility makes accessible vehicles of the highest quality, and we are so thankful that this van saved our lives”

The Harness family recently purchased another BraunAbility conversion from MobilityWorks in Akron, OH. They decided to stick with a Chrysler, and took home their new accessible Pacifica! Sheila and her family planned on traveling in their new van to Franklinburg, MI this year for their family Christmas.

The Wheelchair Mommy


Priscilla Hedlin, also known as “The Wheelchair Mommy” has been blogging about her life for over 15 years. She documents her everyday life in Pflugerville a small suburb of Austin, TX and talks about what life is like raising three young boys. Her blog covers a little bit of everything from skydiving and purchasing a sailboat, to dealing with family hardships.

In the fall of 1999, Priscilla was in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury. While recovering in the hospital, one of her nurses gave Priscilla a book titled “Joni: An Unforgettable Story” by Joni Eareckson Tada. After reading it, Priscilla realized for the first time that she wanted to document her life, and soon setup a website to share her stories. In the beginning, the blog was mostly about her life and recovering from the spinal cord injury. She then began writing more about her husband, children and their adventures.

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