Sizemore is supported by BraunAbility and his dealer, MobilityWorks in Plainfield, IL. When you purchase a mobility product from BraunAbility, you join a powerful community.
Lawson Sizemore was attending the Abilities Expo in Chicago when he first saw his dream vehicle in person - A limited edition 50th-anniversary BraunAbility Entervan. According to Sizemore, he knew immediately that he had to drive the van. "When I found it online, that was the one I wanted from the get-go. When I saw it in person, we had to buy it," he said. The wheelchair-accessible vehicle, a BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica, was fitted with unique badging and gold accents that caught his eye. A college student, Sizemore recently packed his van to the brim with essentials and moved to the University of Illinois where he studies Journalism.
I think the 50th edition, what they were able to do with the gold trim, the grill on it, the sleek black and the sports edition within the van is something a young guy like me looks for when he's trying to buy a van. It’s not like a soccer mom car, it's more sleek and cooler.
The Road to Purchasing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
For Sizemore, the road to finding the perfect accessible vehicle was a long one. When he was in high school, the Sizemore family van became unfit for his wheelchair, and he needed accessible transportation before he went to college. It was then that a neighbor surprised the Sizemore with a generous donation for a wheelchair van, and a family friend set up a GoFundMe. During that time, Sizemore found out he could drive an adapted vehicle, and in just over a year, he got behind the wheel in his new van.
Whether he’s running weekly errands, visiting home, or working with the University of Illinois Men’s Basketball team, Sizemore loves taking trips in his accessible vehicle. He said, “I love driving anywhere, so every trip is fun. The best part is if I ever want to go home or if I have somewhere to be, I could just go whenever I want because I have my car.”
Driving Modifications for People with Disabilities
Sizemore lives with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), a condition that causes nerve damage in the arms and legs. As a result, he uses a power wheelchair for mobility. Before getting his wheelchair-accessible van, Sizemore relied on family for transportation. He said, “Before I was driving, I was very dependent on my parents, and their schedule kind of revolved around my schedule.” Being involved in many school activities, he emphasized, “They would always have to pick me up and drive me places. They would have to wait on me [after school].” For Sizemore, the possibility of driving a wheelchair van opened a ‘whole new world.’
Sizemore worked with a certified driver rehabilitation specialist to determine what kind of adaptive driving equipment he would need. He uses driving aids called hand controls. These devices connect to existing vehicle pedals, replacing the foot pedals with a handheld lever. This lever allows Sizemore to control his vehicle using one hand for the gas and brake and the other for his steering wheel spinner knob, so he can turn his vehicle with ease.
The Chrysler Pacifica 50th Anniversary BraunAbility Entervan
Before purchasing his limited-edition wheelchair van, Sizemore considered converting an existing vehicle to be wheelchair-accessible, but he ultimately decided to purchase a new BraunAbility Entervan. Sizemore was particularly fond of the sleek look of the Chrysler Pacifica. He said, “I think the 50th edition, what they were able to do with the gold trim, the grill on it, the sleek black and the sports edition within the van is something a young guy like me looks for when he's trying to buy a van. It’s not like a soccer mom car, it's sleeker and cooler.”
First Trip in a Wheelchair Van
You might imagine a new driver taking their first trip to the local mall, or a favorite restaurant to celebrate getting their license, but for Sizemore, he asked his brother and his best friend to come with him to a local grocery store, where he bought flowers for his mom. For him, driving a wheelchair van was not only about finding independence but about celebrating the person who supported him along the way.
A Longtime BraunAbility Customer
Lawson's decision to choose BraunAbility was influenced by his prior experiences with the brand. "All the ramps and all the equipment that I've used in other cars before were BraunAbility ramps, so I know they're obviously one of the best companies out there.”
I love driving anywhere, so every trip is fun. The best part is if I ever want to go home or if I have somewhere to be, I could just go whenever I want because I have my car.
- Lawson Sizemore
A World of Independence with an Accessible Vehicle
Getting his own accessible vehicle has had a significant impact on Lawson's life. "It's like a whole new world of independence," he said. "When you're able to drive to the store and get what you need and then drive back on your own without anybody else going with you or without having to tell anybody that you're going, it's a whole new world of independence."
Sizemore’s advice for anyone looking to purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle is simple: "Get what you need, get what you want, but also get the best available options out there. Don't settle. Go for the top-tier companies, which is obviously BraunAbility."
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