Last November, several national media outlets featured the story of 23-year-old Rachelle Friedman who, at the end of her own bachelorette party, was pushed into a pool by one of her good friends. The prank went terribly wrong, and she broke her neck on the bottom of the pool and was left paralyzed.
The headlines focused on the irony of the accident and the inspiration of how the couple has stayed together and still plans to get married in July of 2011. Although we hear from thousands of customers with similar mobility challenges each year, Rachelle’s story stuck with us. We found out that her fiance, Chris, had totaled his car on this way back from the hospital to visit her one night. Now Rachelle transfers in and out of her mother’s SUV via piggyback when going to therapy appointments, quad-rugby games or while visiting different locations as she plans her wedding.
We decided that’s no way to go about planning a wedding. BraunAbility got in touch with the great folks at Van Products, an exclusive BraunAbility dealership in Raleigh, North Carolina, right in the backyard of the couple’s Knightdale home. Together we arranged for Chris and Rachelle to have the use of a BraunAbility wheelchair van – a Sienna Rampvan – as they make plans for the “big day.”
“The van’s made all the difference in the world,” said Rachelle. “Not only has it saved my mom’s back, but it’s just made it soooo much easier to get out and do things!”
As an avid quad-rugby player, the handicap van has also taken her to practices and tourneys. “I love how much room I have for all of my equipment!” she said. “And I’ve really loved working with the guys at Van Products. They’ve been absolutely incredible.”
The world hasn’t heard the last from Rachelle. In case you missed it, Rachelle’s story was featured on the TODAY show this morning…along with a HUGE surprise for her and her family. She’ll be keeping us updated on her travels, her wedding plans and what she thinks of her new independence with regular updates on AbilityVoice blog. We’re so thrilled to have her in a BraunAbility accessible van…giving her access to the world, and giving us access to an incredibly positive and strong model for anyone in the early years of meeting adversity head-on.
Be sure to keep tabs on AbilityVoice for future updates from Rachelle herself! Check out this link to see her own website!