Driving Freedom – Don’t take it for granted
Every time I get in my minivan, I take for granted how easy it is to pack up my kids and go to the grocery store or to the beach. After talking with Lynn Will – a 51-year-old elementary school teacher from Pennsylvania – I was once again reminded what an impact a BraunAbility wheelchair accessible van or liftcan make on the life of a person with a disability.
Lynn was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) at the age of 16. CMT is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people in the United States. It affects the nerves in your arms and legs, causing muscle weakness and decreased sensation.
By the time she went to college at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnston, mobility had become a challenge. Lynn was able to drive a regular car, but as she continued to lose strength and sensation in her legs, driving – and walking – became more difficult.
When she finally decided to give up driving, her dependence on others to get her where she needed to go was frustrating. “You can’t do anything unless you’ve planned in advance and have lined up help,” she said. “You just feel so dependent!”
Eventually Lynn decided to use a power wheelchair to help with mobility. While that helped conserve strength, travel became more of an issue. She could use her chair to cover the two blocks between her home and the elementary school where she teaches, but longer trips took outside help. Lynn was especially frustrated that she couldn’t take her daughter to activities or her elderly parents on outings.
“Who would have thought that at my age I would feel like a 16-year-old with her new driver’s license?”
When she finally made the trip to look at accessible handicap vans at Total Mobility in nearby Boswell, Pennsylvania, she realized her independence had been within reach the entire time. She was introduced to the BraunAbility Entervan and special hand controls that could provide driving freedom. By the time her new wheelchair van was delivered in May of 2006, Lynn was a changed woman!
“Who would have thought that at my age I would feel like a 16-year-old with her new driver’s license?” wrote Lynn. “Well, that’s me driving my new Entervan!”
How’s that for enthusiasm?
Now she could finally drive herself, family and friends to a restaurant, to go shopping, to go anywhere! She took trips to Virginia Beach to visit a sister and could participate fully in field trips with her fifth grade class.”It’s given me freedoms I’d forgotten about. I go out to eat on the spur of the moment with no planning ahead,” she said. “The first time I drove more than two blocks, I actually felt like crying.”
Both of her parents have now passed away, but she cherishes the memories that her new wheelchair van made possible. “I always hated not being able to take my parents places over the years,” she described. “One of my favorite trips was taking my 90-year-old father to the farmer’s market.”
Lynn’s appreciation for her wheelchair van and the driving freedom and independence it has returned to her life is obvious. Her advice to potential customers considering a wheelchair van? “Don’t wait! If I would have known how much freedom this van would give me, I never would have waited so long,” said Lynn.
Lynn’s excitement was certainly contagious and reminded me why we have the slogan, “Driving Freedom.” We hope ourmobility products have sparked that same kind of excitement in your life as well. If you have a similar story you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below!