Once this amazing young woman sets her mind on something, there is nothing that will stop her from achieiving her goals. Congratulations on the recent achievement of your mobility goals, Stefanie! Check out the video links she shared below highlighting some of her recent accomplishments. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for her next!
I was injured in 2009 (Spinal Cord Injury C5 Complete) at the age of 24 and despite this set back I have tried to excel in my life completing my Masters degree in Advertising in 2014. I have wanted for a long while to be able to drive myself so that I can be more independent and not have to rely on others for simple transportation. Now that I am driving the new van these past few days, I feel such an immense joy and freedom it is indescribable. I sit thinking in awe of all of the things I will be able to do now. Even simple things that people take for granted.
I am a frequent spokesman for Canine Companions, the organization that provided me with my service dog, and I have worked as a volunteer with Google in product development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpU8fB7rLtI
I also am a competitive horse driver and represented the US in the Para-Equestrian World Championships in 2016 (totally funded by donations and wonderful foundations such as yours): https://vimeo.com/204979920/ef307f877a
I look forward with great anticipation and excitement to my continuing, incredible journey and especially being able to drive a car after 7 long years of waiting! I think the horse carriage driving has prepared me well!! I want to bring my message of hope and inspiration to others. Being more independent will help enormously. Your generosity and assistance with the cost of the Braun ramp has given me the wings to fly!
THANK YOU!! Stefanie
Elena and her 20-year-old son, Victor live every day to the fullest and choose to focus on ability rather than disability. Victor’s complex medical needs inspired single mom Elena to return to school and become a Licensed Practical Nurse. This gave her the confidence and ability to provide her son with the very best care which he deserves. After being diagnosed and successfully treated for her own medical complications two years ago, Elena set her sights on purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to improve their quality of life. A grant from NOVA helped them achieve this goal and now there’s nothing holding them back! Sending a very special thank you to our friends at EZ Lock who made a donation that will ensure Victor rides safely and securely.
My son has a severe case of Cerebral Palsy that has left him wheelchair-bound, nonverbal, developmentally delayed, tracheostomy, and gastrostomy dependent. However, he is not aware of his limitations. He wants to go places, do exciting things and be among people. I dedicated my life to encourage and nurture his zest for life. Unfortunately, sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, no matter how hard we try we cannot achieve our goals. This is where your organization stepped in. With your generous donation, we were able to modify our new van. To me, this means one less worry, but for my son, this means Life, Joy, Freedom, Friends… This means that he will again feel a belonging to this world, he will feel again like one of us and again he will be part of the “action”. As for the world: maybe the world will see in the smile of my child that joy can be simple and pure, acceptance can be unconditional, and there is the ability in every disability… and maybe the world will be a better place for having my son in it.
Please accept our deepest, most sincere gratitude for making this possible. – Elena and Victor
Eight-year-old Kyler was diagnosed with a rare disease called Phelan-McDermid Syndrome which is a chromosomal disorder. He relies on his mom, Amy, for all of his needs. Amy is a single mom with Fibromyalgia who was often unable to lift Kyler into their old non-adapted van. With most of the funding in place, they needed the remaining balance to secure the purchase of their wheelchair accessible van. A grant from NOVA bridged the funding gap and allowed them to achieve their mobility goal.
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to your organization for awarding Kyler and I this grant. The CompanionVan Plus conversion that we picked out makes it so much easier to get out for dinner and back and forth to Doctor’s appointments. With your help, I could afford the purchase of an accessible van that I never thought would be possible. Life is going to be so much easier due to the generosity of your organization. Thank you does not seem like it is enough. Sincerely, Amy and Kyler
When Michelle applied for a grant from NOVA, she wrote that she was in need of a transfer seat because she was worried about her mom, Maria. She told us that Maria had to pick her up to get her in and out of the car and she was concerned that her mom was going to hurt her back. The Bruno Valet seat offers an affordable option for those with mobility needs who do not have a wheelchair accessible vehicle, and it has made transfers much easier for Maria and Michelle. Check out this video to see how the transfer seat works:
What’s better than receiving a grant from NOVA to complete the purchase of your wheelchair accessible minivan? How about also receiving grants from the Spina Bifida Association of KY and Superior Van & Mobility, as well as a generous donation from our friends at Q’Straint for easy to use wheelchair tiedowns! We all feel the effect of aging, but when arthritis and osteoporosis compound the physical limitations caused by spina bifida, mobility becomes quite a challenge. Tina will no longer have to worry about scheduling a ride in a community van (that may or may not show up on time) days or weeks in advance to make it to medical appointments.
I’d like to send my deepest heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the $5,000 grant you gave us. It helped us a lot. With the van we feel so free to do the things we enjoy doing, such as going to church, Dr. appointments, shopping, and getting out in our community. We made a trip to our niece’s for Thanksgiving. It was so easy on all of us. As Tina’s parents and being 81 years and 74 years of age, we didn’t have any problems transporting Tina. Everyone was so pleased to see that she was so free to travel. Tina said it feels like she was out of jail. I truly understand as I’m her caregiver. Sincerely yours, Ella (Tina’s mom)
Sales and Service Manager for Kansas Truck Mobility in Wichita, KS Chris Walden shared the following article with us about Bailey and her grandma, Betty:
New Van Assures Safe Travel to the Zoo and the Family’s Thanksgiving Dinner
WICHITA, KS (12/16/2016) “A trip to the zoo,” is one of the first excursions Betty, Jamestown, KS, and her sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Bailey, have planned. They took delivery of their wheelchair accessible van today at Kansas Truck Mobility, Wichita, KS, thanks, in part, to The Ralph Braun Foundation (now NOVA). Betty, who works a full time job and has full time custody of both Bailey and her thirteen-year-old sister, said their old van just couldn’t be repaired. Her hand was forced, she said, to find reliable transporation.
“I can’t afford to be out in the middle of nowhere and have car trouble,” she said. Betty had knee surgery this past summer, so physically lifting Bailey out of her wheelchair and into the van by herself wasn’t possible anymore. “Our new van means we can go and do what we want and not have to wait until someone can come over and help us,” Martin added. She said she and her granddaughters go everywhere. Bailey especially enjoys going to school (12 miles away in Concordia, KS), singing, shopping, visiting zoos, and attending Kenny Chesney concerts. “With this new van, we’ll be able to go to a family Thanksgiving dinner,” she added.
Bailey was born with myotonic dystrophy, a genetic disorder that affects muscle function.
Loving husband and father, David, has dealt with many medical downward spirals over the past several years. His family worked diligently to raise as much money as they could to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle which would allow them to go on outings as a family and get David to his medical appointments. He applied for our grant to complete the final amount needed to achieve their mobility goal.
Thank you for the grant received from your organization. This grant allowed us to purchase the wheelchair accessible van for which we had been raising funds. My multiple sclerosis has taken a lot of freedom away from me, and the ability to get this van will allow me the freedom to go back and forth to my medical appointments, family gatherings and school events without scheduling a ride weeks out. My family is grateful to your organization for easing our minds of this stress and be able to be together in the same car as a family.
Sincerely, David and Family
It has certainly been a tough year for Maggie, but with the love and devotion of her grandparents she will go all of the places a five-year-old girl needs and wants to go!
My daughter was involved in a fatal automobile accident on January 5, 2016. Both our granddaughters survived but Maggie 4yrs old at the time sustained multiple injuries including a cervical fracture. She spent 112 days in Vanderbilt’s Children Hospital ICU ad 37 days in Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. She was given a 60% chance of any use of her upper extremities. She was blessed and beat the odds. But unfortunately she was not able to use her lower extremities. After being discharged from the hospital she had 3 to 5 Doctors and therapy treatments each week for the next six months. Unfortunately the medical transportation companies had a very difficult time covering her schedule. She had missed up to 3 appointments each week. A friend told us about your organization. After receiving the grant we were finally able to purchase this beautiful Honda van from Superior Van and Mobility in Louisville, KY. We can now make our appointments and be free from being stuck at the house. We can now also attend Thanksgiving and Christmas with the whole family. With the help from Todd Winchester and Mrs Andrea Vrobel we are 100% pleased with this whole transaction. From the beginning of this whole thing we have had nothing but a happy experience from Mrs Andrea Vrobel, Todd Winchester and David Yount (Brandl Mobility Finance). Many thanks to Q’Straint too for donating the wheelchair tiedowns. Maggie’s world is now turned around in the right direction and even under her condition she is one happy girl again. A BIG THANKS for all that helped . – Nelson (Maggie’s Grandpa)
When Karen began fostering Forrest at eight months old, she knew she would do whatever it took to make sure he received the medical care he needed and quality of life he deserved. After celebrating his adoption two years ago, Karen began the journey to obtain the mobility products that would allow her to take him to his numerous medical appointments and therapies. Forrest was fitted with a customized wheelchair which made ground transportation easier, but the next step was an accessible vehicle to safely and easily transport him in his new wheelchair (which is quite heavy!). With the initial funding secured, Karen was seeking assistance to bridge the funding gap for the remaining balance in order to make their mobility dreams come true…we are thrilled we could help them achieve this goal!
Thanks to the contribution from The Ralph Braun Foundation (now NOVA), my son Forrest can now get to his doctor and therapy appointments much easier. The lift has made life much easier. We can now go places without someone having to be with us. We plan on going to visit Santa for his first time, and we can now go to the park or wherever we desire. We really love the lift and appreciate your help. My heartfelt thanks to you – Karen
Brandon and Joshua
Brothers Brandon, 27, and Joshua, 21, are fortunate to have such an awesome little sister who wouldn’t give up until their mobility dreams came true!
We are all extremely thankful for the grant we received from The Ralph Braun Foundation (now NOVA) to assist with the final funding of our wheelchair accessible minivan modification. As the younger sister of two older brothers, it’s difficult to see them struggle every day with mobility issues. They both have a progressive neuromuscular disease which has slowly taken away much of their physical abilities, but they always have a smile and much resilience.
Two years ago when I was preparing to leave for college, I just knew I had to try to do something for my family. I began our intense fundraising efforts with a GoFundMe page, which led to a benefit golf outing by our wonderful friends, nine different yard sales from donated items, and many generous donations from friends and family. Our dream was to not have to transfer them into the van but allow them to drive right in and go places together once again. Finally seeing this dream come together is absolutely wonderful! “Now we can go together anywhere at any time we want”, Brandon said. My brother Josh is really looking forward to going places with his girlfriend, and “finally” not being dependent on us to push him around in his manual wheelchair. It’s a true blessing! What a difference this will make in their lives!
Many sincere thanks to The Ralph Braun Foundation (NOVA) and to Q’Straint for the set of retractable tie downs they donated to us.
Elsie and Rupert are thrilled to be back on the road in their new BraunAbility conversion thanks to the help of mobility consultant, Todd Slates
Rupert and his mom, Elsie, have endured a great deal of challenges recently including loss of loved ones and medical complications. When the engine went out on their old van and could not be repaired, Rupert and Elsie were not only unable to make it to their many medical appointments but they were also stripped of the ability to engage in their community. Their church family was a source of strength and encouragement for them but without accessible transportation, their worship has had to take place at home watching services on TV. As the single mother of a 27-year-old adult child with a disability, Elsie must provide total care for all of Rupert’s needs and it is vital that she also attend to her own physical and emotional health. Working with her church and other organizations, she was able to obtain the initial funds needed for a wheelchair accessible minivan. A $5,000 grant from NOVA bridged the remaining funding gap, allowing them to regain their mobility freedom. In a touching thank you letter from Elsie, she wrote:
I would like to take this time to thank you and each person who made the selection possible for assistance with the financial grant award toward Rupert’s new vehicle conversion. Thank you for understanding and knowing the always continuous ongoing care, love, attention and assistance twenty-four hours a day that we parents continue to provide for our extraordinary, exceptional children. The award has made both of our lives easier, more convenient, safer and happier.
Gracefully, Rupert & Elsie
Lifting 72 lb. Greg in and out of the family’s unmodified SUV was a two person job for his parents Susan and Stephen. The ability for one parent to take Greg out for a medical appointment or to run errands was out of the question while the other was at work. The day program that Greg attends provides transportation which allows him to participate in the peer interaction, skill building experiences, and community interactions that brings him such joy. Unfortunately, budget cuts that would eliminate this service are a very real concern for this family. When Susan and Stephen met with mobility consultant Sam Smyth at Advanced Wheels of Technology, they were thrilled to find a wheelchair accessible vehicle that would meet their needs. While the cost seemed financially daunting, a grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation/NOVA allowed them to achieve this mobility goal. Our friends at Q’Straint also assisted the family to guarantee that they had the wheelchair tiedown belts that would allow them to quickly and easily secure Greg’s wheelchair to transport him safely.
On behalf of our son, we would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude. We are looking forward to the flexibility of travel whether it be a short trip to an appointment or the ease of mobility in venturing to an extended family excursion. We will never forget what your foundation has done, together with the invaluable assistance that we received from Advanced Wheels of Technology. They led us to your foundation and we couldn’t be more satisfied with their service and guidance with our quest to acquire a modified vehicle. We appreciate your immeasurable generosity and the tireless work you do to financially assist the disabled community with mobility needs. We thank you for the bottom of our hearts. – Stephen and Susan
Brayden with his parents Kristi & Matt enjoying their new BraunAbility rear entry conversion
10-year-old Brayden may have mobility challenges due to spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, but that has not kept him from wanting what most 10-year-old boys desire…to be more independent and social in his community. Brayden enjoys school and is already thinking about attending college. His parents, Matt & Kristi, have unfortunately begun to experience problems with their shoulders, back and knees making transfers very difficult and potentially unsafe for them and Brayden. Now that he requires a power wheelchair, they have not had the ability to transport it with them and have had to leave it at home, decreasing Brayden’s ability to be independent outside of the home.
For those of you who attended our Rock On to Roll On fundraiser this year, you might recognize this family. They had recently been awarded a grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation and their van had been sent to BraunAbility for the conversion at the time of the event. Our friends at Superior Van & Mobility were generous in donating the use of a wheelchair accessible rental van for the weekend in order to allow the family to attend and bring Brayden along for the fun with his power wheelchair. Kristi gave a very moving presentation sharing their journey to mobility freedom and how this grant helped them bridge the gap to independence.
Dear Ralph Braun Foundation,
Thank you so much for approving our request for assistance with our rear-entry van conversion. It definitely means the world to us to be able to safely transport our growing son and be able to have his power chair with him. This allows him to have an independence he didn’t often have in the community prior to now because he can operate his power chair independently, rather than having to be pushed in his adaptive stroller when distances became too long for him to manage in his walker.
We look forward to the adventures to come that this van conversion will allow our family!
With sincerest thanks,
Matt, Kristi & Brayden
Zakery & Lexi
Firefighters Brian & Kyle work hard to keep their community safe, and they work just as hard at making sure their 14-year-old twins are able to be an active part of the community. Zakery & Lexi entered this world 15 weeks early and both were diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, followed by countless procedures and surgeries. This has not stopped them from being happy children who are a joy to their family. Brian & Kyle’s goal is to provide as many opportunities for their children as possible, including programs for children with special needs, therapies, medical appointments, special events, school, and even daily errands. With two children in wheelchairs, it was very difficult to safely lift them both into the vehicle and also be able to load both wheelchairs. A wheelchair accessible vehicle will allow them to easily and safely take all of their kids out into the community as a family. They worked with Keith Carlson at United Access in Lenexa, KS to select the vehicle and lift that was the best fit for their family. They shared the following note with us explaining how their new BraunAbility lift will provide their family with new opportunities:
Thank you Ralph Braun Foundation. Having two children in wheelchairs as you can imagine is difficult. Just the simplest idea of getting the family out for pleasure, not to mention daily life can be challenging and back breaking. Having this vehicle that allows both children to be in their wheelchairs will allow us to be more mobile, adventurous, and safe. Thank you so much for your generosity. This was a huge help for our family of six. Sincerely – Brian, Kyle, Zakery, Lexi, Cooper & Mason
When Jessica purchased a van and planned to have it modified to accommodate her son’s wheelchair, she had no idea of the additional cost required for this conversion. She began reaching out to other organizations in her community for assistance and was directed to The Ralph Braun Foundation to help with the remaining 25% needed to achieve their mobility goal. A generous donation from our friends at Q’Straint ensured that Braeden would be transported easily and safely. Now 11-year-old Braeden. who suffered a stroke in utero, can go to all of the same places as his twin brother Ruben and little sister Leila! Jessica wrote us the following letter of appreciation to let us know how much mobility freedom means for their family.
I am writing to let you know how thankful I am for you all to help my family. We are so happy to have our van modified for Braeden’s wheelchair, it is like we finally have freedom to go anywhere!!! It’s so easy and not frustrating getting out. We are so excited and forever grateful!!! Before I was almost dropping Braeden trying to get him into the van because he is getting very heavy. I AM SO GLAD WE NO LONGER HAVE THAT ISSUE. THANKS AGAIN!!! – Jessica and family
Herman is a fun-loving, energetic 70-year-old gentleman who was diagnosed at the age of nine with familiar progressive spastic paraplegia, a condition which three of his four sons have also been diagnosed. As indicated in the name, this is a progressive condition which has resulted in the need for Herman to use his power scooter the majority of the time. When he was no longer able to participate in his volunteer duties at church, independently go to medical appointments or complete regular day-to-day activities, he realized that a wheelchair accessible vehicle is what he would need to regain his independence. He had saved the majority of the funds required for this purchase, but still needed the remaining balance to bridge this gap and achieve his goal. A grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation helped Herman make his dreams of mobility freedom a reality.
Words can’t express how grateful I am for the grant. If it were not for The Ralph Braun Foundation I would not have been able to afford this van. This van will make things easier for me to get around. My condition is worsening so I will not be able to use my crutches as much and will have to depend on my scooter. This van will make it easier getting in and out of the van. I am tickled to death with this purchase. Many thanks! – Herman
19-year-old Stassney is a petite girl, but at 88 lbs it was becoming difficult for her mom, Michele, and grandma, Susan, to lift her into her car seat. Stassney was born with microcephaly and was diagnosed at the age of 2 with cerebral palsy. These conditions left her wheelchair bound and fully dependent for all of her care. Fortunately, the minivan that Michele owned was able to be modified with a BraunAbility conversion, and Susan worked diligently to raise the funds needed to help her daughter with this purchase. With a grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation and additional assistance from our friends at EZ Lock and Advanced Mobility Systems of Texas, this family has achieved their dream of mobility!
When I read your email I was so over whelmed with joy I started crying and haven’t stop yet. A simple thank you is so small for the enormous gift this will be for us. This will truly be life changing for Stassney and Me. Thank you, it is sincerely appreciated. – Michele and Susan
The Ralph Braun Foundation was first contacted by General Manager and Mobility Consultant at United Access in Champaign, IL, Gary Wilson, sharing Braden’s story. Braden is a 14-year-old young man who was diagnosed with the neurological disorders Dystonia and Mitochondrial Disorder, as well as Auditory Neuropathy. While he currently uses a manual wheelchair, he will soon be moving into a power wheelchair which will allow him the ability to keep up with his friends and participate in activities that other teenagers enjoy. When Braden’s mom, Sarah, submitted their grant application she wrote “Braden is a wonderful, bright, funny and beautiful teenager. He is so much more than what is written about him in his overly thick medical file. His spirit, adaptability, and motivation is contagious. I often wonder who needs who the most.” The assistance received from our grant program, along with a generous contribution from our friends at Q’Straint, helped Sarah and Braden gain the remaining funds needed to achieve their mobility goals. The smile on this handsome young man’s face is the best thank you we could receive! Sarah wrote us this letter expressing how the things that many of us take for granted are monumental for their family:
The opportunity the accessible van has allowed Braden to do is be able to go into places and not having to ask. I no longer have to put together his chair and transfer him in and out. To some this may not seem like a big deal but at 14 years old Braden has grown into a young man.
He has freedom now on a completely different level. The first thing Braden wanted to do once we got the van is go into the local grocery store. Many times I have just ran a quick errand for an item or two while he has waited. This is a freedom we quite often take for granted but for Braden it is life changing. It may seem silly but as a mom I’m still in awe of watching Braden experience this. I am so very thankful and he is too. – Sarah & Braden
After 22 years of active duty in the US Army, Robert decided to retire in order to spend more time with his wife and six children. His 10-year-old daughter, Freja (pronounced FRY-a), was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and requires full time care to meet all of her needs. Her parents were unable to load her wheelchair into their sedan which meant that when they took her out, she had to be carried because they did not have her wheelchair with them to easily take her into the community. As one could imagine, this became quite difficult as she grew and Freja’s trips outside of the home became nearly impossible. Katie Walter, the family’s Mobility Consultant at MobilityWorks, referred them to The Ralph Braun Foundation and they were selected for a grant which allowed this family to bridge the funding gap that had prevented them from achieving their mobility goals. They are now on the road in their new BraunAbility van. A very special thank you to Robert for his service to our country!
“The Ralph Braun Foundation’s generous grant has given us the ability to purchase this adaptive van from Mobility Works in Richmond, VA. Now we are able to travel with our daughter. She can now travel to church, as well as many other places, with us. When making plans to do things with all of our children, we no longer have to leave our daughter Freja at home. Our entire family can now travel together. We would like to thank The Ralph Braun Foundation for the freedom and possibilities that this has provided us!” – Robert & Anette
Kinsley is a loving, cheerful girl who loves being on the go. After suffering a stroke in-utero which resulted in extensive brain damage and spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, her life has been filled with numerous medical and therapy appointments. Her family worked with Todd Winchester at Superior Van & Mobility in Louisville, KY to find the perfect van with a VMI conversion to meet their needs. Thanks to Q’Straint for their contribution to ensure that Kinsely is safely secured.
The time had come and we knew we had to make a change. At 70 pounds and over 4 feet tall, it was becoming increasingly difficult to safely transfer our 9 year old daughter in and out of our unmodified van. Between school and therapies, we were averaging at least 6 transfers a day. It was hard not only for us physically, but for Kinsley as well as we struggled to transfer her from wheelchair to car seat. We had been looking at vans with a ramp conversion, but were unsure how we would afford the options we needed. The Ralph Braun Foundation and the grant we received were an answer to our prayer! The van we were able to purchase is perfect for Kinsley and our family. She loves being able to stay in her wheelchair, going up and down the ramp and helping buckle her seatbelt. From the very first day we drove the van, we experienced a new freedom! We had stopped going places because we were worn out physically and it was too difficult to get Kinsley in and out. Kinsley is a social butterfly and loves to be out and about. It is now possible thanks to your foundation, who help people achieve that freedom of mobility. We are forever grateful that you saw our situation and decided to help change our lives! Many thanks.
Six-year-old Cameron is an active first grader who loves playing with his friends. He was born with spina bifida and he works very hard in physical therapy to stay strong. As he grew, it became more difficult for him to climb into his seat from the floorboard and for his parents to lift him into the vehicle. A successful local fundraiser raised just over 75% of the money they needed to purchase a Bruno Valet transfer seat. Cameron’s mom, Amanda, applied for our mobility assistance grant and was awarded the remainder of the funds needed to make their dream a reality.
We are so thankful to The Braun Foundation for making this possible. We are loving how independent Cameron is in his new adapted van. The seat allows for independence and control for Cameron and it allows his parents the ease of not lifting him into the car. We would not have been able to do this with out their help and we are eternally grateful! Thank you!
Jackelyn’s mom, Viula, realized the day had come for a wheelchair accessible vehicle when Jackelyn experienced a seizure while being transferred into their unmodified minivan. This seizure (which occurs 60-80 times a day) resulted in both mother and daughter falling and required hospitalization for injuries sustained. With an injured back, Viula (who is also Jackelyn’s full-time caregiver) was not certain how she would be able to transport her daughter to the many medical appointments she must attend. Jackelyn is 16-years-old and was diagnosed at the age of two with cerebral palsy and epilepsy with drop attack seizures.
The community-based regional center in their area provided funding for close to 75% of the money they needed for a BraunAbility conversion, and a grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation gave them the remaining 25% they needed to make their mobility dreams come true.
On behalf of my family and I, we want to take the time to thank you The Ralph Braun Foundation for granting us the grant, which helped me complete my dream, a van with a ramp. The grant means so much to me because now I will no longer have a difficult time to be transported to my destination. This grant has been a tremendous blessing to me! Without this amazing opportunity, my mother would still have to be lifting me up from my wheelchair to the car seat. I enjoy going to church, the park, family outings, and now it is more enjoyable!! It was always a difficult task when it was time to get me into my van, sometimes the seizures would drop me while being transferred. Now, having this van makes me feel safe and secure when going to my doctor’s appointments and outings. I will now be able to use my electric chair, which excites me! With gratitude I once again thank The Ralph Braun Foundation for making my dream come true. Sincerely, Jackelyn
Tim has faced many health challenges throughout his life, but he never let these obstacles slow him down. Before ADA was enacted, he was told he could never attend Georgia Tech in a wheelchair. He proudly proved his doubters wrong and graduated with a degree in architecture. He worked in this field for many years and was successful in starting own company, until multiple surgeries resulted in the amputation of his left leg and other medical complications. This left him dependent on his wife, Cynthia, for assistance transferring into and out of their vehicle. Since Cynthia works full time as a teacher, Tim was isolated at home without the possibility of leaving his house. He and Cynthia worked to pull together most of the funding needed to purchase a wheelchair accessible van with a VMI conversion and reached out to The Ralph Braun Foundation to help bridge the gap in achieving their mobility goal. Tim has now regained his independence and is driving himself to doctor appointments, coffee or lunch with friends, and community activities.
Unfortunately, my most recent surgery two and a half years ago was to amputate my left leg due to a raging staph infection that threatened to take my life. I’m not a candidate for a prosthesis due to many factors: my right left has a contracture that limits my ability to straighten it, and the risk of injury due to falling is too great. That leaves me confined to a wheelchair. Since the amputation, my lack of independence and spending every day in isolation by being home without even the possibility of leaving my house has left me dealing with depression. A visit with the professionals at Performance Mobility changed everything when they introduced me to the technology of handicap conversion vans. The technology allows me access to the van and to the driver’s seat which allows me to regain my independence. – Tim
Virginia was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis fourteen years ago and the progression of this disease significantly impacted her ability to walk over the years. She now relies on a wheelchair for all mobility. Her husband Jerry was no longer able to easily lift her into and out of their vehicle and the transfers began to take a toll on Jerry’s back. This limited Virginia’s ability to visit with her children and grandchildren or go to church. It also became difficult to even make it to needed medical appointments. A grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation allowed them to qualify for a loan from their credit union for the remaining funds. With their new BraunAbility wheelchair accessible van, Virginia and Jerry can once again enjoy time together with their family, friends and community.
Thank you to Ralph Braun Foundation for the much needed grant. It will help to purchase the handicap van that will make big changes in my life. Now, I will be able get to my doctor’s appointments , church AND visit my kids and grandkids.
THANK YOU RALPH BRAUN FOUNDATION SO VERY MUCH!!!
Briana and Matthew
Single mother of 14-year-old twins, Briana and Matthew, is so grateful for the ease of transporting her kids with their new BraunAbility conversion.
I have 14 year old twins that were born premature and with it came Cerebral Palsy. Both Briana and Matthew can’t walk so I carry them in and out of their wheelchairs. They each weigh over 90 lbs. Going to outings was a huge task for both me and my twins. When I had to go to the market, I had to take two wheelchairs out of my trunk then both of the twins out of their seats and onto wheelchairs and back again. One visit to the market took me eight times to load and unload. This was exhausting and hard on my body, not to mention my spirit. I was drained at the end of our trips. Whenever we had to go somewhere, I’d think twice, three times before I could get started on the process and sometimes never went just to save us the trouble.
Now, thanks to The Ralph Braun Foundation, my family can enjoy adventures that once were tasks and difficult labors and turned them into real “fun adventures”. I have to laugh when I feel there’s something missing because the twins are quickly in and fastened inside our new converted van and ready to go to our destination. This is a wonderful feeling to have the freedom to ease in and out of the car. People, total strangers who saw me lifting both my twins in and out of the car would come up to me and tell me they empathize for me. I usually held back tears with a lump in my throat.
As I sit here and think back on all those in and out liftings, and think of how much easier it is for us, I thank God for good people like Mr. Braun and his foundation and everyone who made this miracle happen for my family. Thank you again to The Ralph Braun Foundation. I also want to extend my warm thank you to Steve Casaus at MobilityWorks in Pasadena.
With love, yours truly,
Active little four-year-old Braiden is becoming more independent every day. He loves going to church and any extracurricular activities in which his big sister participates. It had become increasingly difficult for his parents to lift him into a car seat in the center of their vehicle, and they realized that a wheelchair accessible minivan was the best option for their family. Thanks to grants from The Spina Bifida Association of Kentucky, The Ralph Braun Foundation, and a matching donation from Superior Van & Mobility, Braiden now has a BraunAbility conversion that offers him the freedom and independence needed to keep up with his big sister and their busy activity schedule.
It is worth more than I can describe as a mother to know my child is sitting comfortably and safely anytime we travel.
Five-year-old Sarah was born with a rare genetic condition which has caused her to be unable to sit, roll, crawl or walk. She has significant medical needs requiring a caregiver next to her at all times, including in the vehicle. This family’s community rallied to raise enough money to help them purchase a full size van, but they still needed some additional assistance to purchase a wheelchair lift. Sarah’s family was awarded a grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation which allowed them to achieve their mobility goal in December 2015 and can now enjoy an improved quality of life.
The Ralph Braun Foundation Grant has meant so much to our family. We have been trying for years to get a van and this lift. This lift will bring freedom and ease to our family. It was impossible for us to lift her wheelchair into the vehicle without two people. So to take Sarah anywhere with only one of us was not possible. Also, it was very difficult to transfer Sarah with all of her equipment and tubes attached to her. It was a lengthy process to disconnect and reconnect everything. To be honest, it was a chore to take her somewhere and sometimes we opted not to, especially if it was a short trip. Mother-daughter shopping trips were not really an option. This lift makes it so much easier to take her, so now we can go shopping together and other short outings. We can also go on family trips because her wheelchair is inside and leaves the storage room for all of her equipment and our luggage. It is also so much easier on our backs and this is only the beginning for us. As she grows, this lift will be even more invaluable to us and to our backs. We thank you so much for giving us the freedom to travel and making it easier for us to care for our daughter.
Nero with his mom, Charlene, and Charlie at Cummings Mobility
Single mom, Charlene, has waited a long time to purchase her own wheelchair accessible vehicle. Her 21-year-old son, Nero, has Ataxic Cerebral Palsy requiring the use of a wheelchair. His ability to participate in his community was limited without reliable, accessible transportation. After obtaining assistance through other local agencies and receiving donations, The Ralph Braun Foundation was able to help Charlene bridge the gap in achieving her mobility goal with the purchase of a BraunAbility conversion in December 2015. Nero can now easily and safely participate in various day program activities in his community.
Thank you Ralph Braun Foundation for your commitment in helping disabled people with mobility challenges to obtain their independence thru Ralph Braun Mobility Grant Program. We could not have completed the purchase of a conversion vehicle without Ralph Braun Financial assistance, for that, we are very grateful and thankful. Our initial 4-6 month search for a conversion vehicle was very gloomy. In reality it became utterly impossible financially, until I discovered Mobility Grant Program thru Ralph Braun Foundation. Now, we have reliable and SAFE means of transportation for my 21 yr old son with Cerebral Palsy. Praise Ralph Braun Foundation for their action of commitment! Sincerely, Charlene
After 15-year-old Abigail received a new power wheelchair, her mother Deborah was in desperate need of a wheelchair lift for their van in order to transport her daughter. Deborah also needed to prepare for the future needs of Abigail’s older sister, Savannah, who also has special needs and is at high risk for requiring the use of a wheelchair. A grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation and a donation from EZ Lock allowed her family to complete the purchase of a new BraunAbility wheelchair lift in January 2016.
The foundation awarding this grant for the wheelchair lift is truly a blessing. My daughter, Abigail will now be able to use her electric wheelchair when needing transportation for doctor appointments, out patient procedures, or hospitalizations which are located 200 miles from our home. Having a lift also allows Abigail to be transported in the safest manner, where as before this was installed, a portable ramp was being used. The portable ramp is heavy. It is hard to use and dangerous too because it was not locked on to the van for stability. The wheelchair lift will also stop the physical wear my body has endured from having to physically help Abigail into and out of our van. Receiving this lift will enable Abigail to participate in more social activities of life verses being stuck in our home all the time.
Thank you and your supporters for the gift of this award that has enabled the installation of the items needed to allow Abigail to become a happier kid by giving her freedom with her mobility needs. Sincerely, Deborah
When Sum Dong underwent one of the first hip replacement surgeries in Korea over 35 years ago, his results were not as expected and left him dependent on the use of a wheelchair. After his wheelchair accessible vehicle van broke down following many years of use and was beyond repair, he was unable to secure all of the funds needed to purchase a replacement. With help from his church, his family and The Ralph Braun Foundation, Sum Dong is now back on the road to independence with his new BraunAbility conversion!
The opportunity to have my mobility back and drive again has meant so much to me. I can now attend my support group for people with disabilities once a month. I go to church every Saturday and Sunday. I am able to go grocery shopping and to my doctor’s appointments by myself. This has brought back my independence. This summer I plan to go fishing every day. This is one of my favorite hobbies. I am so very grateful to be driving and to regain my independence. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I truly appreciate it. Sincerely, Sum Dong
Sixteen-year-old Tiara was born with Cerebral Palsy. As she grew, her parents were no longer able to safely lift her into and out of the car. This prevented Tiara from attending the activities she loved, as well as needed physical therapy and doctor appointments. With help from The Ralph Braun Foundation, the family were able to complete the purchase of an accessible minivan with a BraunAbility conversion:
We are so thankful for Ralph Braun’s help for my daughters van modification. This was truly a blessing for her. She can now go to her daily activities, and appointments safely. She loves to go bowling and to the store. So with you guys help you have made that happen for her. She is a very happy young lady. Thank you so much for your help, may God bless your organization.
Kyle’s Excellent Adventure
Written by Andrea Vrobel on September 9, 2015
I had the pleasure of spending the day with Kyle and his mom, Robin, in July when they received their van with a new BraunAbility conversion. Kyle is ten years old and has a very rare syndrome called Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome. He is dependent on Robin, who is a single mom, for all of his care. Even though her days are busy ensuring that Kyle’s needs are met, Robin maintains a positive attitude and feels blessed. Robin enjoyed working with all of the wonderful people at Ilderton Conversion of Charlotte and was appreciative of the great care she received from her Mobility Consultant, Bobby Rolfes. A very special thank you also goes out to Q’Straint for their generous donation ensuring that Kyle can be safely and easily secured in his wheelchair during their travels.
Mobility is so much easier now for Lori and her 30-year-old son Daniel with their new BraunAbility conversion. Lori is a single mother caring for her adult son who relies on her for all of his needs. It is critical that as a caregiver, Lori not only care for Daniel but also take care of herself. Many caregivers have become injured by loading wheelchairs into vehicles and the frequent transfer of loved ones. A valid and often heard concern is “who will take care of me and my loved one if I become injured?” We are glad that Lori can now safely and easily take Daniel for appointments and community events to enjoy a greater quality of life. A great big thank you to our friends at MC Mobility Systems for your generous donation to ensure that Daniel remains safely secured during his travels.
Caleb And His Family Have Gained Their Mobility Freedom
13-year-old Caleb is a growing boy who can now ride comfortably and safely in his wheelchair thanks to his family’s new van with a BraunAbility wheelchair lift. Mobility freedom means a better quality of life for Caleb, allowing him to enjoy more activities and visit loved ones! Many thanks to EZ Lock and Advanced Mobility Systems of Texas for their generous donations to ensure that Caleb is secure during his travels.
Dear Ralph Braun Foundation:
We can never thank you enough for your contribution towards the wheelchair accessible van for our son Caleb. By granting us these funds, you have made our lives so much easier. This has ensured the safety of Caleb, as well as all of us, and helps us be able to properly take care of him the best way possible. It has helped prevent any future accidents with Caleb. It has also given our family peace of mind that we have a vehicle designed for Caleb that will last us for many years to come. We are no longer limited to an outing of only one or two stops. Caleb has loved getting out and seeing people and this makes it so much easier, not to mention quicker! You have given us a lifetime of mobility and freedom.
Teresea, Charles, Colton and Caleb
Stephanie’s Mobility Dream Comes True
Stephanie’s new BraunAbility conversion will allow her to enjoy the independence that every 18-year-old young woman deserves. It is with thanks to our generous donors that The Ralph Braun Foundation is able to provide grants to individuals such as Stephanie to help make mobility dreams come true! A special thank you also goes out to EZ Lock whose donation ensured that Stephanie will be safely secured during her travels. Her mom, Elena, wrote us the following letter:
I would like to thank The Ralph Braun Foundation for their donation to help me convert my minivan. Thanks to them I now can take my daughter wherever she wants to go and she’s able to take her power wheelchair along. Having this gives her freedom and independence. I have struggled for a long time because everywhere I took her she couldn’t take her power chair and to her it meant lack of freedom. She had to depend on me to push her around. Now that we finally have the converted van she wants to go out all the time. She is very happy and my husband and I are very grateful.
Thank you so much for making her dream come true and for making our lives easier as well.
Cutter Is On The Road To Dallas/Fort Worth
Accessible transportation makes a difference for the entire family! Seven-year-old Cutter will now be able to enjoy activities in his community with the family’s new BraunAbility conversion. A very special thank you to EZ Lock and Advanced Mobility Systems of Texas for their generous donations which will allow Cutter to be transported safely and easily.
Dear Ralph Braun Foundation:
The funds granted for us towards our new van are going to make a huge difference in our family life. We are now able to safely take my son, Cutter, to all of his doctor appointments. We no longer have to borrow a friend’s car to transport him to these appointments. I no longer have to lift him out of his wheelchair to load him into the car, which means less strain on him and me. We are now able to do things as a family and Cutter will not be left out! Cutter is an active part of his community and the special needs community. He can now benefit from the numerous special needs events throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. This van allows me to, as a single mother of two; give them the best quality of life they deserve. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Lily, Cutter and Daryen
Chase’s Amazing Journey
This was an exciting day for Chase and his family! They worked diligently to raise funds for the purchase of a wheelchair accessible vehicle which would allow them to transport Chase safely and easily. A grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation provided them with the remaining funds they needed to achieve their goal of mobility freedom. Thank you to Cassy Churchill and Andy Parker with M.C. Mobility Systems in Evendale, OH who assisted this family in selecting a wheelchair accessible vehicle to best meet their needs. This minivan with a VMI Northstar conversion will allow Chase to embark on many exciting journeys this summer! His family wrote the letter below sharing with us the challenges they no longer have to face and the freedom they can now experience:
It all began October 31, 2014. I was carrying Chase, our 10 year old little boy, into my SUV. Our normal routine was to place him up into his large special needs car seat, however this time we didn’t quite make it. As we crossed our deck, and me being a bit of a klutz, somehow I managed to slip on the garden hose and down we went, thankfully Chase fully ready for Halloween and trick-or-treating laughed as we hit the deck. My right hip took most of the fall, thankfully. Being a mom, and wanting to protect him, I managed in the split seconds to fall in a manner that prevented him from being injured. He laughed out loud and this confirmed to me and everyone else that the fall didn’t warrant a trip to the ER for X-rays and that nothing was broken (Chase still laughs when it’s mentioned). I believe this was the day that we decided something must be done! My back and Chase’s ever increasing size coupled by the breaking down of his wheelchair each time we wanted to travel kept us inside and this just wasn’t fair. He loved getting out doing things but keeping him and myself safe was a priority now, another fall could be devastating to him, or me, or both.
Embarking on the journey for the accessible van for Chase has been the most amazing journey thus far! It has built memories, beautiful friendships that will last forever, hope, awareness, and independence for not only Chase but our entire family. I’m sure The Ralph Braun Foundation realizes the impact it has to help give independence to individuals and it’s so much more than just financial. I can try to say in words how thankful we are but I also want to show you. Giving a child/adult and/or their family the ability to live easier without stressing about unnecessary worries like transportation safety, takes a huge weight off of our shoulders. We no longer dread going to the grocery store, to the park, or to a family member’s birthday party! These things may not all be fun all the time but are necessary to live a good quality of life, and just being a part of the community. I can’t tell you enough how lonely it is at times being a special needs parent and a special needs child. However now we can get out into the community, Chase can now play on the Miracle Baseball League which he loves! He recently went to Kings Island, another favorite, and the entire family went which was another first.
Chase has 3 siblings so all of us going places together has been a huge challenge. Thanks to The Ralph Braun Foundation, we can now all go places together! I can now take him grocery shopping with me (he always get a prize before we leave), we are planning a family mini vacation with his new van and Chase is so excited! He loves exploring new places, and now we can safely do this. This entire experience has been amazing and unforgettable and not possible without you. So we are sending you all of our love and a huge Thank You from the bottom of our hearts for being heroes to our little hero!
Chase, John, Amanda, Little John, Alexis and Elyse
Jeffrey Is All Smiles
Jeffrey and his family worked with Phil Schempp at Access Mobility Center in Midland, MI to purchase a Dodge Grand Caravan with an El Dorado Amerivan conversion. Jeffrey’s grandmother, who also uses a wheelchair, lives with the family and will also enjoy the freedom of accessible transportation. Below you can read Jeffrey’s letter sharing his story and what an accessible vehicle will mean for him:
This award means a great deal to me and my family. When I was born two months premature I was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. I have needed a wheelchair my entire life (along with many other assistive technologies). My disability has caused many financial hardships for my family but through it all they have encouraged me to be as independent as possible. In 2013, while in training for my service dog, my accessible van broke down 400 miles from home and was non-repairable. I have been home-bound for two years because we couldn’t afford to purchase another accessible vehicle. Without transportation I had to give up my college degree hopes with three courses left to take, had to rent a vehicle to make doctor’s appointments that were outside of our county, and have not been able to see my family in New York for two years. This grant was a huge help in getting my independence back! I have been able to purchase a newer used vehicle with dependable accessibility thanks to this grant. Thanks to The Ralph Braun Foundation I am able to get back out into the world and live independently again.
Sylvia’s Wish For A Family Road Trip Comes True!
Sylvia and her family are thrilled to receive their new BraunAbility Toyota Rampvan Conversion with Q’Straint retractable wheelchair securements. They worked with Grace Sweger and Charlie Flickner at Superior Van & Mobility in Lexington, KY to make five-year-old Sylvia’s wish for going out in her community and planning a family road trip come true. A very special thank you to each of the following organizations for their contribution in granting Sylvia’s wish: Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana Chapter, Superior Van & Mobility, BraunAbility, Q’Straint, and The Ralph Braun Foundation. Below is a note from Sylvia’s mom, Jill, expressing her gratitude for this opportunity:
The opportunity for Sylvia to receive a van conversion is something that will impact her and our family for so many years to come. Since her diagnosis of KCNQ2, a rare genetic mutation that causes seizures, developmental delay and many other challenges, we have been working to plan for both her future and her day to day needs. Our van was serving us well for her day to day needs, but as she was growing and her mobility equipment was getting heavier, we knew that very soon a day would come when taking her out on outings would be extremely difficult. This thought was a sad one, because what Sylvie loves more than anything is to go on outings. When the opportunity came along from Make A Wish to potentially get our van converted to accommodate her wheelchair, we were thrilled! Since the conversion has been completed, we are able to take Sylvie on more outings and spend more time out in the community. We are even planning a family road trip this summer! Thank you so very much to all who assisted in this big undertaking. Our family is forever grateful for this wonderful gift that changes our lives each and every day and makes our future brighter as well.
Nathan And His Family Are Grateful For Their New Conversion
Nathan and his family have faced many challenges lately and are grateful for the assistance received from The Ralph Braun Foundation, as well as the great care and recommendations made by Gordon Weishner, Mobility Consultant with M.C. Mobility Systems, Inc. in Mentor, OH. The family’s minivan was equipped with a BraunAbility rear entry conversion which will allow them to transport Nathan easily and safely to appointments, work, and activities. Nathan’s family wrote the following letter after receiving their newly accessible vehicle:
We would like to thank The Ralph Braun Foundation for accepting our application to receive the grant. We are truly blessed to receive the funds allowing us to have our vehicle modified for our 27-year-old son Nathan. Nathan has had Cerebral Palsy since birth. Our family has been through a lot this last year financially, but along with this organization we were able to have our van modified for our son. Words cannot express how thankful and grateful we are to The Ralph Braun Foundation.
Retired Police Officer Enjoys the Ease of Transportation in His Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
Clifford and Beverly worked with Mountain Adaptive in Asheville, NC to select a wheelchair accessible vehicle to best meet their needs. Their mobility consultant assisted them in selecting a Braun XT conversion with a B&D 8-way transfer seat base and Veigel hand controls. They received a grant from The Ralph Braun Foundation to achieve their goal of mobility freedom.
My wife and I are eternally grateful to The Ralph Braun Foundation for their efforts and support in granting financial assistance to help me with the purchase of our Braun Entervan.
Due to my Multiple Sclerosis and my wife’s Chiari Malformation, we are both physically disabled and are making every possible effort to remain living as independently as possible. My height (6’6″) required our seeking the Braun XT conversion on the Dodge Grand Caravan. I can easily enter via my scooter or powerchair and with the power transfer seat, easily access the driver’s position.
Through the efforts of your organization we can continue to live independently and remain mobile in our pursuing of appointments, errands, and obligations without reliance on neighbors and hired transportation.
Thank you Ralph Braun Foundation!
Cliff & Beverly
This is One Happy Family!
Laura Calhoun, Development Director of the Albany Advocacy Resource Center in Albany, GA, rallied the community to help this family get a much needed wheelchair accessible vehicle. Joe Butler and staff at Quail Country Customs, Inc. worked tirelessly to complete the modifications to this vehicle, including a BraunAbility wheelchair lift and EZ Lock automatic wheelchair tiedowns.
Words cannot even express how thankful we are to have a wheelchair accessible van! I just want to shout from the highest mountaintop a great big THANK YOU to the Ralph Braun Foundation and to everyone involved from the donors to Joe Butler at Quail Country Customs. With our new van and lift, our lives have become richly blessed. We had reached a point where our lives became stalled because of the children’s sizes. Being teenagers and weighing as much as a full size adult, it was becoming too much to lift and transfer our children from their wheelchairs to the vehicle seats. I was afraid of injuring Tifton or Bethany by dropping or falling with them. Not to mention hurt or pulled back muscles for me and Scott because of lifting the kids or putting their heavy wheelchairs into the back of our old van. This became such a strenuous process that we started eliminating certain outings like visits to the zoo, park, and parties. As a mom, I was feeling so guilty because they should be able to enjoy these things like everyone else and I couldn’t continue to provide their recreation. Now, with the new lift, we can roll right into the van and to our destination!!!
I want to say a special thank you to Joe Butler for helping us find the perfect van for our family and modifying it to fit Bethany and Tifton’s special needs. With Joe’s special care and attention, I do not have to worry about the safety of the kids while I’m driving and can have my focus on the road. Thank you so much for your hard work!
With grateful hearts, we thank you for proving such a blessing as this grant to our family and others,
Scott, Dawn, Tifton and Bethany
Brandon Thanks His Heroes
Brandon and his family are grateful for all of their “heroes” who assisted in achieving their transportation mobility goal. A very special thank you to Bruno for their generous donation to ensure that Brandon can be transferred and transported safely and comfortably. Thank you also to Jay Simpson and Alamo Mobility in San Antonio, TX for going the extra mile to help this family receive a new Bruno Valet Plus seat and wheelchair lift.
We have entered the year 2015 with a Bang! Brandon finally has his mobility seat and lift. Brandon has been able to go to his appointments with no problems. We are able to get him in and out the van knowing we will not break a bone. Now we be going to Boerne Tx. For horseback riding classes, his therapy sessions and we are planning a small family trip which we have done for along time. The modification done to the van means the difference between getting around carefree or staying home missing out on life. I would like to thank everyone that made this possible from the first person taking call getting the wheels started, to doing the paper work, to the installers,and most of all those that picked up the bill. All of you will always be Brandon’s heroes and mine too. No words could ever express the gratitude and admiration I have for each and everyone of you. Sincerely, William Brandon and Minne