Driving Freedom For a BraunAbility Customer

Lynn Will in a power chair is surrounded by her many grandkids on a spring day

Driving Freedom - Don't take it for granted

Unlike other drivers, Lynn Will -- a 51-year-old elementary school teacher from Pennsylvania -- couldn't just get out and go to the store, on vacation, to the movies, any old time she wanted to. Not until she found BraunAbility, that is. 

Lynn was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) at the age of 16. CMT is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people in the United States. It affects the nerves in your arms and legs, causing muscle weakness and decreased sensation.

By the time she went to college at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnston, mobility had become a challenge. Lynn was able to drive a regular car, but as she continued to lose strength and sensation in her legs, driving -- and walking -- became more difficult.

When she finally decided to give up driving, her dependence on others to get her where she needed to go was frustrating. "You can't do anything unless you've planned in advance and have lined up help," she said. "You just feel so dependent!"

Eventually, Lynn decided to use a power wheelchair to help with mobility. While that helped conserve strength, travel became more of an issue. She could use her chair to cover the two blocks between her home and the elementary school where she teaches, but longer trips took outside help. Lynn was especially frustrated that she couldn't take her daughter to activities or her elderly parents on outings.

When she finally made the trip to look at accessible handicap vans at Total Mobility in nearby Boswell, Pennsylvania, she realized her independence had been within reach the entire time. She was introduced to the BraunAbility side-entry wheelchair van and special hand controls to provide driving freedom. By the time her new wheelchair van was delivered in May of 2006, Lynn was a changed woman!

"Who would have thought that at my age I would feel like a 16-year-old with her new driver's license?" wrote Lynn. "Well, that's me driving my new Entervan!"

Now she could finally drive herself, family and friends to a restaurant, to go shopping, to go anywhere! She took trips to Virginia Beach to visit a sister and could participate fully in field trips with her fifth-grade class."It's given me freedoms I'd forgotten about. I go out to eat on the spur of the moment with no planning ahead," she said. "The first time I drove more than two blocks, I actually felt like crying."

Both of her parents have now passed away, but she cherishes the memories that her new wheelchair van made possible. "I always hated not being able to take my parents' places over the years," she described. "One of my favorite trips was taking my 90-year-old father to the farmer's market."

Lynn's appreciation for her wheelchair van and the driving freedom and independence it has returned to her life is obvious. Her advice to potential customers considering a wheelchair van? "Don't wait! If I would have known how much freedom this van would give me, I never would have waited so long," said Lynn.

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