On the Road to Mobility Independence: Eric LeGrand's Unstoppable Drive with His BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica

“I would [tell others to] purchase a wheelchair van because it just allows you to feel like you're human. You're not held back from certain experiences and you don’t feel trapped inside.”

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Eric LeGrand vividly recalls the day his life changed– October 16, 2010- It was his junior year at Rutgers University, where he played on the school’s football team as a defensive tackle. Like any other football game, LeGrand got ready, dressing in his football uniform- padding, helmet, and his #52 jersey- a jersey that is now retired by his alma mater. What started as a normal game turned into a life-changing injury- LeGrand fractured his C3-C4 vertebrae and became paralyzed from the neck down. 

A collegiate athlete, LeGrand saw himself going to the NFL. According to LeGrand, doctors said his prognosis was, ‘grim’ after his injury.  

He recalled, “The [doctors] didn’t think I would be able to make much out of my life”. According to LeGrand, doctors were unsure whether he would survive his injury, let alone breathe, eat solid food, or walk on his own again.  

LeGrand credits his ability to maintain a positive attitude while living with his disability to faith and hard work. Today, LeGrand is an accomplished entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. He keeps up with his busy lifestyle thanks to his power wheelchair and his BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica. 

Customizing His Ideal Wheelchair Van 

LeGrand’s first wheelchair accessible van was a Chrysler Town & Country. While he enjoyed his first vehicle, over time, he was ready for a new van. LeGrand chose the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica. Specifically, the sport edition- as he’s fond of the vehicle’s black rims. He chose the black exterior too, as he prefers the sleek, monochrome look.  

LeGrand said, “I had my [first Chrysler wheelchair van] customized to be matte black with black rims, so I was looking for something similar to that [for my new accessible van].”  

With the wheelchair accessible Chrysler Pacifica Sport model, LeGrand said, “Everything was already done. I was like ‘that's my vehicle. That's the one I want.” He’s had the vehicle for three months, and in that time, he’s consistently used his van to run errands, spend time with friends and family, and travel for work. 

Eric LeGrand Pushes His Chrysler Pacifica Wheelchair Van to the Limit 

LeGrand ‘put a lot of miles’ on his wheelchair van when he first got it. At the time, he had multiple speaking engagements throughout New Jersey, but one trip is memorable to LeGrand and his mother, Karen. LeGrand’s mother- his primary caregiver and often the person behind the wheel, was driving with Eric, ready to get home after a speaking engagement. Eric sat in the passenger seat, fit with a wheelchair securement system, confident the vehicle would make it home with a limited amount of gas and five hours left in the trip.  

He said, “I got the gas when I first bought [the van] and I pushed it to its limits. I was on my way back from a golf outing I was speaking at and I thought, ‘We can make it. Home was only about five hours away.” He reluctantly continued, stating the van inevitably ran out of gas, “It died on the side of the road. Not gonna lie, I would not recommend that”, he said. 

When he’s not pushing his vehicle to the limit, LeGrand enjoys visiting the beach, he also frequently stops by the two businesses he owns- a local coffee shop and a whiskey company - where he uses his personal experience as a wheelchair user to ensure his establishments are accessible to people with disabilities

Everything was already done. I was like ‘that's my vehicle. That's the one I want.

- Eric LeGrand

Eric LeGrand Doesn’t Take His Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for Granted 

In his day-to-day life, LeGrand relies on his accessible vehicle for work, leisure, and running weekly errands.  

He is grateful to have the vehicle, stating, “[Getting my wheelchair van] was huge because I don't have to call for transportation everywhere. I'm not confined to my house.” He continued, “It’s not easy for other people who don't have an accessible van for themselves. I never take stuff like that for granted.”  

LeGrand encourages those who are looking into purchasing an accessible vehicle to consider the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica.  

As he put it, having a wheelchair accessible vehicle is, “A great experience. It gives the person that needs the vehicle so much more independence being able to go out and about to live your life.” He continued, “I would [tell others to] purchase a wheelchair van because it just allows you to feel like you're human. You're not held back from certain experiences and you don’t feel trapped inside.”

LeGrand is supported by BraunAbility, and his local dealer, MobilityWorks, in Highland Park, NJ. When you purchase a mobility product from BraunAbility, you join a powerful community.

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