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Business Grant To Help Ruptured Disc Disabled Ken Earn Independently

by Ken Vander Waal
(Mosinee, WI, USA)

I am a 54-year-old gentleman, married to my lovely wife Terri. Terri is a waitress for a local restaurant. Together we have five adult children. Similar to other Midwesterners, while our children struggle to survive in this economy, they are healthy and happy.

My eldest son is serving in the military, my younger son lives nearby (although unemployed), and my daughter received the Marines ROTC scholarship and is attending her first year of college a couple hours away. Terri's children have jobs they love but also do not live nearby.


Disability Issues

I've always been a workaholic, both for my employer and at home. I take a lot of pride in what I do and how I do it, but much changed in 2009. While working in the yard one afternoon I ruptured two disks in my lower back.

During that year I had three surgeries to repair the damage, and while I could once again walk standing straight up, I ended up with permanent numbness in my left foot and leg, and peripheral neuropathy.

Today I take pain medications in order to work and sleep medications in order to sleep.

I was told I should apply for Disability but I felt I could succeed without it.

Financial Hardship

Today I have health insurance through this employer, but like everybody else it is outrageous. My prescriptions are expensive even though my insurance covers much of the cost.

Any money left over is barely capable of paying the bills. On top of that my medical condition is worsening the more I do and the older I get.

Our vehicles are older with high miles and are often in need of repairs we cannot afford. So we bandage them. I feel the worst of them, a 2006 Suburban, with 170,000 miles on it, to be the easiest for me to get in and out of and operate. I expect I'll need a high-seated vehicle that I do not have to plop down into before too long.

On that note our garage is detached from our home and there are stairs from it to the ground level and then the same up into the house. Once inside our bedroom is upstairs.

My goal would be to be able to sell our old house (built in 1900) and move into a ranch with an attached garage and a bedroom/bathroom on the main level.

Income Efforts

Considering my physical limitations and condition I struggled to find a job. I searched for over a year but kept hearing I was overqualified.

In addition, while nobody ever said "you're handicapped" or "you're too old," based on the reasons given for not hiring me, I felt this was more the truth. So I had to swallow my pride and ask for help.

A couple months later with the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Department of Vocation and Rehabilitations, I found a job as a Project Manager for a systems automation and solutions company.

I've been there two years now but my position, due to the inability of the company to keep staff, has transformed my salaried management position to one of being the lead technician and technical support. I've requested changes but I am confident nothing will ever change.

Specific Needs

I presume my back/nerve health will continue to decline. I have two choices: (1) to either make my home more handicap compatible, or move to a home that is, or (2) to slow the decline.

This would be done by finding work that consists of less than 65 hours M-F that I do now, or by opening my own business where I myself control my schedule.

In a true utopian world I would do both, but both cost money that I do not have nor do I know anyone with funds I have access to.

Business Idea

What I am looking for is a grant that would enable me to start my own business. I've run successful businesses for others and I've been renovating homes for over 30 years on the side and have gotten quite good at it. I am very mechanical and have a lot of the tools necessary.

By being my own employer I could rest when I needed to and thereby take better care of myself. What I do not have is the funds to start up a business, or to live off of in order to pay for insurances, medications and other living expenses until the business can survive on its own.

I thought often that if I won the lottery that I would do just that. Difference is I would not charge for my service. My customers would be those less fortunate, those elderly and/or handicapped.

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Jan 19, 2015
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You're off to a great start!
by: Don from Ability-Mission.org

Hi Ken,

Your story is beautifully done. You have a writing skill that puts you near the very top of the population.

I really understand your work ethic and desire to make your own way.

With your story published, you are now eligible for the Disability Help Guide Workbook. The Workbook will help you move forward form the story-posting phase.

All the best,
Don Coggan

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