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Accident Disabled Man Seeks Accessible Van Grant To Keep Serving Community

by Tom Dockery
(Deltona, FL, USA)

I'm an accident disabled man with an urgent need is to purchase a mini van, with accessible modifications that I can use to maintain my independence.

I want to continue my involvement in community service with the disabled, doing volunteer work in my city, county and state.

My story begins with a car crash almost 30 years ago. Since that time, my physical disabilities combined with the aging process have continued to spiral downward; yet both my spirit and desire to be an active productive person have continued to soar.

I could initially walk with crutches and a modified shoe, but have progressed to needing constant wheelchair assistance. I completely lost the hipbone and joint on my right side, following the injury.

This means, I can drive, but must have an accessibility-modified van to transport my wheel chair with me. I must have a remote controlled ramp, a driver’s side transfer seat, remote door operation, EZ-lock for the chair, and remote controller for the back hatch, since I cannot reach to close it from my chair. I do not need hand controls or other modifications other than the ones listed.

Currently, I have a 2000 GMC Savana full size van, which is part by part dying from both its age and use, translation: gas hungry clunker in need of replacement. I purchased it used.

It is now having more and more breakdowns, and problems with the controls. It will no longer allow me to open the side door to let down the ramp and the lift.

Therefore, unless I can find someone to help, I cannot get into the van, and unless someone happens to be around, I cannot get out of the van when I reach my destinations.

With the heat in Florida, this is a huge problem. A vehicle here reaches a dangerous level of heat very quickly. Over the last 6 months, the monthly cost of repair has increased regularly.

Living on Social Security Disability, I am at the point that putting more and more money into this van is throwing money at what has become a money pit. This is never a sound financial decision, especially with very limited resources and the economical environment in which we live.

I have looked at both low mileage pre-owned and new vans from the years 2005 to 2009., more specifically the Dodge Caravan, SXT, modified with a folding ramp, kneeling elevation, and transfer seat.

Of the ones I have found locally, and been able to get my wheelchair into, this one seems to meet all of my needs for accessibility and to have a very economical, durable, and safe track record.

As with all accessibility modifications, I have found the prices range from $29,000 plus to $49,000 plus in price range depending on year and mileage. If you are familiar with SSDI, you will immediately gasp, as I did, at the thought of trying to do this on my own. Can you please help me or help me find assistance?

Following is a more detailed description of my community involvement, and a very minimal list of my responsibilities within and for others in my city, county, and state area. Not detailed is the considerable number of calls and questions I answer and help with via email or phone from home, and the number of disabled persons I help to transport to meetings and programs within the area.

After my injury, I could no longer do the physically challenging job I had been educated to do, so I went back to school and got a degree in counseling. After working for a little over 8 years in that field, my physical stamina declined to a point that I could only work part-time, and then finally to the point I could only hold up to do volunteer jobs as a counselor, since I could not guarantee the ability to keep set hours.

Since that time, I have been active as a volunteer advocate, counselor, and educator for people with disabilities. I am educated on ADA issues, and the law for disability, as well as many medical issues and the course of action needed to help someone access assistance from the medical community.

Currently, as well as for the last 23 years, I am a counselor, leader, advocate, educator, and advisor for two support groups for people with brain injuries, both traumatic and acquired -- one in Deland, and one in Daytona -- and also am a supporter of and personally attend the group in Orlando as often as possible.

I am active as the Minister of Disability for my church; am active in the Parks and Recreation Accessibility Sub-committee for the City of Deltona; was elected to serve the last 4 years as a Citizen Representative on the Human Services Advisory Board for Volusia County; and am now up for re-election.

In the past, I served 12 years on the Florida State Brain Injury Association’s Board of Directors; and 8 years on the Advisory board of the Florida State Department of Health’s Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program; and 6 years on the Advisory Board for the Department of Children and Families for Volusia County, to mention a few of my volunteer involvements. As you can tell, I have been very active and involved in the entire arena of disabilities for my state and local area for many years.

I will be happy to provide reference letters, medical information, and volunteer award information to validate any of my statements. Any help, advise or direction that any one will provide to help me acquire a mini-van with accessible features will be very welcomed and appreciated.

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Jul 11, 2010
Resources Added
by: Katina from Accessible.org

Congratulations on making the effort to submit your story to Accessible.org. With the publication of your story, you are now well on your way to:

1. Getting your story known to a wide audience that could help you.

2. Getting your story polished up and presentable so you can submit it elsewhere, including the White House.

As a disabled person myself, I can sympathize with your situation and I definitely understand your need for help.

I've done a bit of research and found these resources for you:

Family Promise:

City of Deltona

Others reading your story may be able to contribute more.

In any case, please let us know if they've been helpful to you.

Katina from Accessible.org

Good luck!

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