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9 Tips for Planning Ahead and Making Your Home More Wheelchair Accessible

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Your home should be a place of comfort and accessibility.

Use Federal and Local Resources to Fund Modifications

Are you planning to purchase a new accessible home or modify your existing one? For obvious reasons, ranch style houses are most often the easiest to retrofit for accessibility. If you need to remodel, check out sites like Disability.gov that can provide services and financial assistance for home modifications. Various programs can help with everything from roll-in showers to entry ramps. Additional resources provided by your state or local county government may also be available.

Clean up the Clutter

An organization system can go a long way to make your home more accessible. Keeping your home clutter-free increases available space for you to roll around in. Putting in lowered shelves and cabinets maximizes accessibility.

Open Floor Plan

Whether remodeling or searching for a new abode, the popular open floor plan allows you more space to roll around in. This type of floor plan also forces you to keep your house clutter-free, further maximizing accessibility.

Lowered lighting

Electrical controls, from light switches, thermostats and more, should be lowered and require little dexterity to operate. Also consider the lighting angle. You don’t want lights to shine in your face, but you don’t want lighting to point too high for you. Motion sensing and voice activated technology are other options to keep in mind.

Higher Sinks

A sink with open space underneath and no intrusive cabinet base allows wheelchair users to roll right up. Even if the sink does have a cabinet base, you may be able to remodel the center part. If you are installing cabinets in the bathroom, you want to take up as little floor space as possible.

Grab Bars

Grab bars installed near toilets in bathrooms can help people in wheelchairs use the restroom as independently as possible.

Roll-In Showers

A shower that lets a wheelchair user roll right in provides privacy for people with disabilities. Consider various options from a vacuum-sealed door, an open shower with no curb or a specialized lift.

Emergency Exit Plan

It’s always best to be prepared in case of an emergency. Make sure your point of exit is easily accessible. Be sure that your alarms are ready, and consider audio and visual smoke detectors.

Parking

You’ll want to make sure that there is plenty of room on the passenger side of the vehicle, particularly if a wheelchair van with a ramp or lift is being utilized. Flatter driveways are obviously going to be safer and easier. Remove any obstacles like planters that can interfere with wheelchair or scooter use. If the driveway isn’t wide enough, consider adding a concrete pad where exit and entry is the most convenient. If that can’t be done, then you may want to consider a rear entry wheelchair van.

When it comes to leaving your home and exploring your neighborhood, MobilityWorks has you covered with our large inventory of new and used accessible vehicles. We have vehicles to fit every budget, so check out all we offer today!

22-Year-Old Melissa Aims to Raise Support and Funds for Wheelchair Van

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Melissa hopes to raise funds for a wheelchair vehicle that would be life changing for her and her family.

Melissa is a smart young woman who recently graduated from the STRIVE program where she learned life skills and how to be independent. The 22-year-old from Crystal Lake, Illinois, loves listening to music and helping others. She enjoys swimming and spending time with her family. But unlike other 22-year-olds, Melissa has overcome huge setbacks. Melissa is hoping to raise funds for a wheelchair accessible vehicle with help from our MobilityWorks store in Villa Park, Illinois.

Melissa Gets a Diagnosis

“There are many things that I would like to do and be part of but my ability to get around has been limited due to my ailments which include Type 2 Diabetes, Autism, Brittle Bones [Osteopenia] and Dystonia,” Melissa said.

“Dystonia was mentioned as a potential diagnosis in 2012, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed with it until December 2013,” Melissa said. “I kept falling a lot and would injure my wrist or ankle, or sometimes both. They would bruise and swell up and it was very painful so the orthopedic doctor I saw would usually put a cast on to make me feel better. Sometimes the x-rays would show there was actually a broken bone. I started to see a neurologist who ordered some tests and I was diagnosed with a form of dystonia. Dystonia is a progressive neuromuscular disorder that can resemble Multiple Sclerosis, ALS and cerebral palsy. There is really no cure but doctors treat the symptoms as they come up.”

Because Melissa has mobility challenges and she falls often, she uses a power wheelchair most of the time. She also sometimes uses her manual wheelchair and walker, but her muscles can be spastic. In addition to her muscular challenges, she has to be careful with what she eats due to her Diabetes. Between medication, blood sugar checks and other difficulties Melissa can become stressed out easily. She does her best to focus on the positives from her Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association[NISRA] Special Olympics team to being with her 19-year-old sister Rebecca and 18-year-old brother Adam.

The Family Faces Challenges

l“My family’s lives have been turned upside down since my diagnosis,” Melissa said. “I went from running on the track team to being in a wheelchair in 2 years.”

Melissa’s mom, despite suffering from a brain aneurysm, has spent lots of time taking her to doctor appointments and researching care. Melissa’s mom had to retire from being a nurse and has a damaged back from years of lifting, so getting Melissa into a traditional vehicle is difficult.

“My siblings have suffered as they have cancelled plans to stay home to help me because my mom was sick in the hospital and my dad was working,” Melissa said. “My dad worked hard for years to provide good health insurance for the family. My dad recently lost his job and our health insurance. We cannot get unemployment benefits so right now we have social security and my mom’s disability. Medical equipment, prescriptions and care is very expensive. Everyone in my family has sacrificed a lot to keep me going. We are a close knit family and we stick together.”

Melissa’s family is currently renting their home so they cannot make structural changes. Each night, Melissa is forced to crawl up the stairs to get to her bedroom which is tiring. Luckily, some kind neighbors built a wheelchair ramp outside their front door last year.

Melissa Spreads Awareness

“Another challenge is getting people to understand and accept others with differences that can be seen and unseen,” Melissa said.

Melissa uses this message with Team Melissa, an effort for inclusiveness for all.

“Team Melissa was a fundraising effort that we did with the help of 3ELove, a company founded by a young lady in a wheelchair who wanted to promote acceptance of people with disabilities,” Melissa said. “She passed away unexpectedly so her brother took over the company. Each January, we celebrate the International Day of Acceptance of people with disabilities.”

Melissa enjoys working with 3ELove and many other great nonprofits including Autism Speaks and NISRA. Her biggest goal is to improve how families access support.

“Everything we have learned is by word of mouth from others or what my mom has researched,” Melissa said. “We don’t have the financial means for a vehicle and some people lack medical care. We seem to have fallen through the cracks of society where we don’t qualify for many programs. I would like to promote widespread acceptance of disabilities and differences.”

Hoping for Accessibility

e“My power chair currently stays home when I go out because my parents’ cars do not have lifts,” Melissa said. “Since my dad lost his job, we cannot even consider a used wheelchair van. My manual wheelchair is heavy and my mom is not supposed to lift it as there is a risk of her having a seizure and injuring herself further. The public transportation is unreliable and only available at certain times. They are closed on weekends as well. If I had a wheelchair van, I could get to doctor appointments easier and volunteer at several places.”

You can help Melissa by donating to her GoFundMe page or to any other worthy nonprofit organization. Melissa said that even if her family does not get a wheelchair van, any donation counts towards medical bills and rent. Melissa offers even more ideas if you can’t donate to her page.

“You can pay it forward, volunteer with the disabled or make a meal for someone down on their luck,” Melissa said. “There are so many things that can be done and if everyone volunteered a little bit the world would be a better place and people would feel better about themselves.”

Marine Lance Corporal and Double Amputee Brandon Receives Wheelchair Van

Brandon Long was on his first deployment in Afghanistan in 2010 when he lost his legs to an IED blast just 2 days before his daughter Claire was born. Thanks to the MobilityWorks team and nonprofit Help Our Military Heroes, this deserving hero received the keys to a new BraunAbility Chrysler Town and Country.

Brandon Makes the Ultimate Sacrifice

Brandon was on foot patrol with his unit when he stepped on an IED. The young man’s squad worked hard to save his life.

“I remember flying through the air and I landed on my right side,” Brandon said of the explosion. “It was really hard to breathe, I couldn’t see anything but a cloud of dust. I remember speaking to the man upstairs and he was telling me my daughter was going to be on the way and I needed to look after her and my wife. He said because of your wife and daughter I am giving you a second chance.”

By the time he arrived at the hospital, Brandon lost 98% of his blood volume and had to be resuscitated multiple times. He was then airlifted to Germany.

“I was 9 months pregnant at the time,” Brandon’s wife Nicole said. “My cell phone rang and they said Brandon had stepped on an IED. All they knew was that he lost his legs and he was in critical condition. I didn’t know what to expect and I was terrified. I didn’t know what his emotions would be. But seeing him meet his daughter for the first time was amazing and overwhelming all at the same time.”

Brandon came home to the United States to recover in Maryland for 2 years. The young family has since moved to St. Augustine, Florida. The journey was tough but Brandon has adapted to all the changes. Homes For Our Troops built Brandon, Nicole and 5-year-old Claire an accessible home. The next step was for Brandon to get back on the road with a new wheelchair accessible minivan.

MobilityWorks Helps Brandon

“Tammy Phipps, a VA representative from Walter Reed in Maryland, referred Brandon to our store,” Tampa General Manager Brian Stuckey said. “Tammy also put Brandon in touch with Ted and Laurie Hollander, founders of Help Our Military Heroes [HOMH]. Brandon decided to work with HOMH and MobilityWorks based on our reputation.”

The Tampa team helped Brandon throughout the process so his vehicle would be safe for his family.

“We installed hand controls, a spinner knob and a transfer seat base,” Brian said. “The vehicle is a BraunAbility Town and Country with a power infloor ramp.”

The MobilityWorks team was proud to assist this young hero as he regains his freedom.

“Brandon is a great guy,” Brian said. “He is 5 years older than my son so I felt an instant connection. It is going to change his life and his little girl will be able to sit in the back and watch DVDs. The family is very happy with their new van. Brandon made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and I am thrilled that we could help him in any way possible.”

Laurie from Help Our Military Heroes agreed with Brian.

“Live a life worthy of their sacrifice,” Laurie said. “That’s my motto. It is part of my prayer every day.”

Brandon is grateful for all the help he has received.

“I don’t know where our family would be without help from people like them,” Brandon said. “The van is amazing and I still can’t believe it’s mine. To be able to hold the keys in my hand-it’s just amazing.”

The Tampa CBS and Fox News Affiliates were on hand during the van presentation. Click here to see Brandon get the keys to his new BraunAbility van at our Tampa store.

The Sleek Chrysler Pacifica to Replace Grand Caravan and Town & Country Minivans

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The Chrysler Pacifica, a modern minivan, will be replacing the Grand Caravan and Town and Country.

We are excited to share that Chrysler will soon be replacing the Town & Country minivan and Dodge Grand Caravan chassis with a more modern, updated 2017 Chrysler Pacifica vehicle. Customers will enjoy the fresh style and ample space.

Benefits of a Minivan

The minivan’s ease of use from the sliding doors to the lower ground clearance for entry are two of the reasons why many of our customers prefer these vehicles. Many have better gas mileage compared to large SUVs. The minivan can fit your entire family. One of the biggest drawbacks is the image of these vans. Chrysler took that into account when they interviewed 6 million minivan owners and designed the new Pacifica. Check out the amazing modern features that this Chrysler has to offer.

New Features

The Pacifica has a sleek exterior with a small grille on the front, LED taillights and a sporty silhouette.  The clean layout inside should transition to an easy to maneuver space when converted. Customers will enjoy the extra cubic feet added to the passenger and cargo areas. A small center console allows for easy storage including phones and keys. The bucket seats have a sculpted look that welcomes passengers. More chrome has been added for a striking design. Click here for more features of the Pacifica.

More Options

Chrysler also unveiled a plug-in hybrid minivan that can drive 30 miles on power alone. While we cannot confirm that our manufacturers will be able to convert this vehicle, it could mean more options for our customers in the future.

MobilityWorks is excited to continue offering the best and newest choices for our customers. No matter what type of accessible vehicle you are looking for, we are excited to be part of your journey to mobility independence. Check out these  pickup truck and sport utility vehicle options. We like to show our customers all the choices that can work for them.

MobilityWorks Foundation Announces Partnership with Special Kids Fund

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The MobilityWorks Foundation is teaming up with the Special Kids Fund to provide mobility independence to children in need.

The MobilityWorks Foundation is proud to announce that we have partnered with Special Kids Fund, a unique children’s charity alliance caring for developmentally disabled children and at-risk youth. We are excited to help as the nonprofit brings mobility to children of families in need in their nationwide wheelchair van donation program.

The Special Kids’ van assistance program began in 2006 and since then, the organization has received thousands of requests for accessible vehicles. The nonprofit has celebrity endorsements from Jason Alexander, better known as George from Seinfeld, and co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Jerry Greenfield.

If you are interested in donating an accessible vehicle you may reach Special Kids Fund by phone at (732) 397-5056 or email DonateVan@specialkidsfund.orgThese donations are completely tax deductible, and they will accept almost any van, even if it needs a little tender love and care. To learn more about their efforts click here.