Dale’s local BraunAbility dealer (and his employer!) is Southern Bus and Mobility, in Valley Park, Missouri. When you purchase a mobility product from BraunAbility, you join a powerful community.
Blink, and you might just miss him – not because he's speeding by, but because Dale Helton drives a 2023 BraunAbility Chevrolet Traverse with camouflage accents. An avid outdoorsman, Dale’s love of hunting and fishing can be seen on his custom wheelchair and his BraunAbility accessible SUV, both of which are decked out in camouflage.
Life Before a Wheelchair Accessible SUV
Before getting a wheelchair accessible vehicle, Dale found himself having to load and unload his wheelchair into his truck, a process that involved disassembling his wheelchair and transferring in and out of an inaccessible car seat. Over time, the process became too physically demanding, and Dale began to limit his outings. He recounted many instances of getting in and out of his vehicle in rain and snow, saying, “Tires are wet. You’re wet. The vehicle’s wet…it turns into ‘do I really need to go or can this wait?’...With my mobility vehicle, I don’t have that problem anymore. I’m into my vehicle in seconds.”
When Dale got his accessible SUV equipped with a wheelchair ramp, adaptive driving controls, and a vehicle transfer seat he was able to go out whenever he pleased. As an outgoing, self-proclaimed “people person”, Dale was happy to get back to his usual trips to and from work and run weekly errands at his favorite local stores. He said,
“When I finally did get a mobility van…I started doing more stuff. When it's hard to get around, you tend to do stuff because you have to. When it's easy for you, you do more stuff that you want to do.”
Customizing a Wheelchair Accessible SUV
Dale’s Chevrolet Traverse is a wheelchair accessible SUV, something which caught his eye, as he appreciates both the vehicle’s versatility and its modern look. His love of the outdoors and hunting inspired him to add the personal touch of camo to his Traverse.
“As soon as I got it, I scheduled to have them wrap it with camouflage on the bottom, and I love it. Everybody seems to love it."
The camo wrap not only shows off his unique personality, but it also serves as an attention-getting conversation starter wherever he goes.
“Most people [think] ‘you’re in a wheelchair; how do you drive?’ So, then I gotta show 'em the hand controls and all that because for the most part… they don't have any idea that a person in a wheelchair can actually drive the vehicle.”
Dale says it seems like everyone he’s run into knows someone in a wheelchair, so he loves to show off his vehicle to those with and without disabilities and talk to people about driving adaptations for disabled people.
Tires are wet. You’re wet. The vehicle’s wet…it turns into ‘do I really need to go or can this wait?’...With my mobility vehicle, I don’t have that problem anymore. I’m into my vehicle in seconds.
- Dale Helton
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Change Lives
While Dale’s vehicle suits his needs, he knows that the needs of disabled drivers are unique, and he uses his knowledge and personal experience with disability to help other disabled drivers find accessible vehicles. Dale works at Southern Bus and Mobility, a BraunAbility dealer, where he sells accessible vehicles to people with mobility challenges.
Dale said he’s “kinda sweet on the Traverse”. In fact, he keeps his vehicle in the Southern Bus and Mobility lot to show customers, but he sells all kinds of BraunAbility accessible vehicles. Dale attests that accessible vehicles have not only changed his life but can change the lives of millions of people with disabilities. In his words, “It's not just [a vehicle] ...it’s a lifeline.”
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