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Changing Lives Through Accessible Transportation

Accessible Van

Getting your child to a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t be a dangerous feat, but for families with children with disabilities, it can be that and much more. When a car breaks down on the side of the road it’s just an inconvenience for most of us, but, for families like the Fullingtons and the Hoffmanns, it’s actually life-threatening. Thankfully, there are organizations like the Steelman Family Foundation who assist families when trying to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

May 10th was a special day for all of us involved. The Hoffmann and Fullington families both drove home in their new, safe, and reliable wheelchair accessible vans from Performance Mobility in Portland, a United Access owned company. Thanks to the Steelman Family Foundation and their generous donors for helping to make this happen.

The Fullington Family will be leaving in their new BraunAbility Toyota Sienna XLE. This Toyota comes outfitted with a power, foldout ramp making everyone’s life a little easier. The Hoffmanns will be driving away in an extra special vehicle, a BraunAbility Sprinter which was customized to accommodate two wheelchair users for both mother and daughter.


About the Fullington Family

Kira Fullington is 14 years old and is completely dependent on her family for her care. She’s 100% wheelchair dependent. She needs to be transported in her wheelchair both due to her size and the fact that transfers need to be kept to a minimum due to her osteopenia (weak bones). Kira also deals with seizures and autonomic dysfunction making long transportation times on public transit difficult as she often is unable to regulate her body temperature. Kira comes with a lot of “stuff,” meaning she has a trach and is vented, so oxygen tanks go everywhere that she goes.

In 2008, the Fullington family moved from Idaho to Oregon to get Kira access to better medical care at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. They moved in with Ken’s parents as they were getting to a point of needing help with the house. Ken, Kira’s father, is 100% disabled with significant mobility issues in his knees. In addition to being a full-time caregiver to her daughter and husband, Mrs. Fullington also provides full-time care to her sister-in-law.

The Fullingtons have had nothing but trouble their current wheelchair accessible van. Their mechanic has been working on for months and is afraid it’s beyond help. This leaves them unable to transport Kira, their daughter, for anything other than medical appointments, for which they use med transport. Last summer, their van broke down and left them stand. For most of us that’s an inconvenience, but for Kira, it’s life-threatening.

About the Hoffmann Family

Teryl Hoffman lives in Oregon and relies on social security as her source of income. As you can imagine, that creates quite a financial burden. Teryl has an amazing family story of strength and fortitude. Three months before her daughter was born, she received a phone call from Connecticut asking if she would be interested in adopting a little girl. When she was born, Teryl was told that the baby would not survive. They gave her six hours at most. When she pulled through, they gave her six weeks, then six months at the most. Well, 14 years later she’s still fighting and thriving! She’s the only person to survive with her combined diagnosis.

Bryten has a rare severe form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) also known as brittle bone disease. Her genetic type is rare enough that it is not yet numbered. Only one other person has been diagnosed with this type, but passed away at 19 months of age. Bryten also has a secondary form (type 16) that no one has survived past birth. Because of her severity, every transfer is a risk for a broken bone if not done properly or safely; even then, she often breaks. Bryten has broken more than 1000 times by age five. She has suffered from low oxygen multiple times in life and has developmental delays as a result. She also has many secondary issues resulting from her OI such as respiratory issues, slowly losing vision, long bone deformities, and is now developing spinal rotational collapse. She also has a depleted immune system and ACD secondary to chronic bone fractures taxing her body. She gets a series of life sustaining infusions every eight weeks in Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. Through it all she loves life.

Teryl currently has a 21 year old lift van that is in need of serious repair. Their van is too small to easily house a power chair, a Rodeo stroller, a manual chair, a scooter or walker, and three people. Even when it is just her and her daughter, they need to haul three mobility devices. There is always a need for a stroller for emergency backup; if Bryten breaks while they are out, she cannot drive her power chair. Teryl’s, who is also a wheelchair user, needs to count for her chair to fit into the equation.

Now both families have the freedom to do all of the things they love to do.

What to Give to the Person Who Always Gives to Others

by Guest Blogger, Beverly Nelson

Caregivers are some of the most selfless people. They devote their time to making sure their loved one’s needs are always met, but they may not take the time or money to truly care for themselves. To make a difference in that person’s life, give the gift of self-care or a service that makes their life easier and gives them back some time to focus on their own needs.

Give Wellness

One thing a caregiver needs most is to care for their own needs, whether mental, emotional, or physical (or all of the above). Help them prioritize themselves with a gift that promotes self-care.

Beautiful Woman Lifestyle Practicing And Exercising Vital Medita
  • Meditation guide – Taking a few minutes each day to meditate helps anyone handle stress better and refocus on life with positive energy. Give a book to get them started or a CD that provides guided meditation. A meditation CD is also something they can have right at their fingertips wherever they go because they can pop it on anytime they have a few minutes.
  • Aromatherapy – AARP recommends essential oils for aromatherapy, which helps with emotional balance, whether they need something calming like lavender or uplifting like citrus oils. Some oils like lavender even help with better sleep. Give a starter set of oils for aromatherapy along with a diffuser for using oils in their home.
  • Self-care journal – Journaling is an excellent outlet for busy people to take some time to themselves and ease their mental burden. A self-care journal takes that a step further with a guide for keeping track of their support network, self-care routines, and achievements, plus games to distract from stress.

Give Time

Time isn’t exactly something you can wrap up and give, but you can give a service that makes someone’s life easier and frees up some of their time.

Young Woman With Beagle Dog In The Park
  • Dog walking service – If your loved one has a dog, consider paying for a dog walking service for a year. A dog owner who is also spending time caring for someone else may struggle to give their dog the attention it really needs. Giving a caregiver this service will take some of that pressure off and also helps if the dog has any destructive behavior, so everyone can live more peacefully.
  • Meal or grocery delivery – Help them have the time to eat healthy meals by giving a subscription to a meal delivery service or grocery delivery. This gift frees up some of their time and also helps make sure their nutrition needs are met.
  • Laundry or cleaning service – No matter how busy life gets, laundry always has to be done, and for busy people the laundry pile can seem never ending. Offer to pick up their laundry for a drop-off service, or pay for a cleaning service so they can come home to the joy of a clean house.

Give Fun

Your friend or family member who stays busy caring for someone else needs more than just relaxation. They need to have a good time too!

Friends Chatting Over Coffee
  • Give them a treat – Whatever they love, whether it’s dessert, chocolate, wine, or something else, there is probably a subscription service that will deliver it to their door. This is a wonderful way of letting them know they’re special and deserve to enjoy life, and they will love looking forward to a monthly treat.
  • Entertainment – Give them the gift of joy with a book or movie you know they would love. Or better yet, give them a night out with you by taking them out for a nice meal or seeing a movie together. Sometimes just getting out of the house and away from the things you need to do, and enjoying good company, is what it really takes to recharge.

The reality is that caregivers often experience burnout if they don’t take care of their own needs too. Help them make themselves a priority, and make it easier for them, by giving a gift of time and self-care.

Steelman Family Foundation Announces Exclusive Partnership with United Access

The Steelman Family Foundation, who focuses its efforts on serving families with children who have disabilities, with a special heart for children with Cerebral Palsy and Autism, announced today that they partnered with United Access, formerly Performance Mobility, as their wheelchair accessible vehicle provider.

“We are dedicated to giving back to the community that has given so much to us,” said René Steelman, founder of the Foundation. “We are pleased to welcome United Access as our exclusive wheelchair accessible vehicle provider. We have worked with United Access, formerly Performance Mobility, for a number of years. They have proven to be a trusted partner and are excited to expand our relationship with them.”

Business Partnership Meeting In Office

“The stories we hear every day and the smiles we see on our customers faces when they drive away for the first time, fuel our passion for the work we do,” said Jeff Brummett, president of United Access. “Serving others is, and always has been, at the heart of what we do. We believe that the Steelman Family Foundation shares both our same mission and values, that’s why we chose to partner with them. We look forward to many years of working together.”

Mobility Awareness Month – Changing Lives: The Road to Independence

This is a month dedicated to raising the awareness of people with impaired mobility. More than 2 million adults experience impaired mobility. As the population ages, the number of people with disabilities is predicted to increase by 22% over the next 10 years, and 1 in 4 of people who are 20 years old today will become disabled before they retire.

2018 Pacificia

At United Access, we believe your mobility is your key to independence, that’s why we have been dedicated to providing wheelchair accessible vehicles and adaptive driving equipment to our customers for more than 20 years. To learn more about how we can help you with your mobility needs, contact us at 877-501-8267 and let one of our local Mobility Specialists get you back on the road.

In honor of Mobility Awareness Month, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is bringing accessibility to the airwaves this year with a one-hour syndicated TV special called, Changing Lives: The Road to Independence. The show features the stories of Kenny, a former New York City police officer and military veteran, and Jordan, a mom with three children, who both lost mobility from car accidents.

Viewers watch Kenny’s and Jordan’s struggle first-hand and then see their lives change once they’re handed the keys to their new wheelchair accessible vans. While viewers witness the power of mobility equipment, they can also watch a special behind-the-scenes look at how manufacturers customize these vehicles and the NMEDA dealer / customer relationship.

Disabled Man On Wheelchair Going In His Car

Tune in to your local station on June 3rd for this emotional and inspirational special that will change their lives forever.