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Rachelle Friedman and Her New Ride

Last week we introduced you to Rachelle Friedman, the paralyzed bride-to-be who received a wheelchair van on loan from Van Products in Raleigh and BraunAbility to use as she plans her wedding. Rachelle’s agreed to update us with blogs about the van, her wedding plans and how she and her family and fiance are adjusting to their new life and the new ride.

So, let me just start by saying, “I LOVE my Toyota Sienna Rampvan!” my mom doesn’t have to slide board me and my fiance doesn’t have to piggyback me anymore. They were definitely starting to feel it on their backs. Now all I have to do is roll In and lock down!

My mom and I decided to keep the wheelchair van a secret from my fiance, Chris, and that we’d pick it up and surprise him with it when we got home. We went to Van Products in Raleigh, NC, and the staff there took me through the ins and outs of the wheelchair van. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to roll up the ramp, lock-in and drive away! Just before we pulled into the driveway, I called Chris and asked if he’d get me out of my mom’s car and into the house, which was the system we’d established since getting into our new routine at home.

Well, he came out, my mom pressed the button for the ramp door to open….but it didn’t! Turns out that in her excitement, my mom had forgotten to put the van in park (sort of a must before trying to deploy the ramp….oops!). Once we figured that out, we finally told Chris that, yes, this was our new van on loan from BraunAbility and Van Products….and then he flipped out! He and my brother played around with all the cool features of the van for an hour and a half, even though it was pouring down rain.Let’s just say, he loves the van as much as I do!

One of the things I love most about the accessible van is its space. As soon as I got out of the hospital, I instantly picked up the sport of wheelchair rugby. I’m the only girl on a team that travels across the Southeast to games and tournaments. The only problem was that my family, my wheelchair, my rugby chair, and all of my equipment could barely fit in my mom’s vehicle. Now that I’m in a wheelchair accessible vehicle, that problem is solved! Traveling is waaaaaaay more comfortable. We’ve taken the wheelchair van to Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia, all without a problem.

The other night, my friends and I went downtown to the Corey Smith concert. We easily fit me my fiance and 3 of my closest friends. We had a blast; especially since I got to meet him backstage! I’m looking forward to more trips like that. I’ve missed this level of comfort, convenience, and independence! Next up…learning to drive on my own!